Former CFL punter and kicker Richie Leone has signed a practice squad contract with the Arizona Cardinals, per NFL sources.
Leone worked out for Arizona on Sunday and inked his pact on Monday. The Cardinals wanted a player with experience and versatility who could punt and kick as the third leg on the team. Currently Arizona has 38-year-old Andy Lee punting and Arizona State University graduate Zane Gonzalez handling kicking duties.
Leone made made use of the agreement between the CFL and CFL Players’ Association after the cancelled 2020 season and opted out of his contract with the Ottawa Redblacks in August. He re-signed for one-year with Ottawa last off-season, the contract was set to expire in February 2021.
Leone is a three-time CFL all-star punter, leading the three-down league in punting average in 2015 and 2016 (49.5 and 49.3) and East Division in 2019 (48.4). The 28-year-old Leone has played 71 career games north of the border punting 472 times for 22,809 gross yards (48.3 average) — 83 yards is Leone’s longest career punt.
Leone received an invite to the 2014 NFL combine, however, he went unselected in that year’s draft out of the University of Houston. He went to training camp with the Baltimore Ravens, but was released among final training camp cuts.
After the 2016 CFL season, Leone inked a deal with the Cards, however, he was waived among the final roster moves following training camp and afterwards signed a free agent pact with Ottawa.
The decision to opt out has proven to be a prudent move, Leone could earn $142,800 USD if he’s on the practice roster all season — minimum active roster salary is $610,000 — with a chance to prove himself in Arizona and be ready if the Cardinals call upon him.