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Argonauts grant veteran kicker Vanderjagt his release

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The Canadian Press
5/28/2009 1:13:24 PM
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TORONTO - Mike Vanderjagt has given the Toronto Argonauts the boot.

The Argos announced Thursday they've granted the veteran kicker his request to be released from the CFL team.

"After many conversations with my family, we have come to the decision that after 13 years of professional football, I'm better suited to be with my family in Florida," Vanderjagt said in a statement. "At 39 years old, my priorities have changed.

"I enjoy my life out of the spotlight. I thoroughly appreciate all the Argonauts have done for me over the course of my career both before my time in the NFL and after. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the organization."

Vanderjagt's decision leaves the Argos with former NFL player Justin Medlock as the lone kicker on the roster heading into the start of training camp.

Vanderjagt, a native of Oakville, Ont., helped the Argos win consecutive Grey Cup titles in 1996 and '97 before signing with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts. He returned to the Argos last season after being released by the Dallas Cowboys late in the 2006 season.

To make room for the six-foot-five, 218-pound Vanderjagt, the Argos dealt veteran kicker-punter Noel Prefontaine to Edmonton.

Vanderjagt holds the distinction of being the most accurate kicker in NFL history, having made 86.4 per cent of his field-goal tries. In 2003, he hit all 37 field goals he tried, won the AFC scoring title and was named to the Pro Bowl. He was also the NFL's scoring leader in '99, just his second season in the league.

Vanderjagt appeared in all of Toronto's 18 regular-season games last season, hitting on 39-of-51 field goal attempts (76.5 per cent) and scoring 161 points. He also posted a 44.4-yard punting average and 55.6 yards per kickoff.

Despite having received his release, Vanderjagt says he's not ready to retire just yet.

"Having been born and raised in southern Ontario, I appreciate the feeling the fans there gave me of always being home," he said. "Instead of retiring, I have asked for my release to leave my options open in case my feelings change."

Adam Rita, the Argos general manager and vice-president of football operations, said the move will allow Vanderjagt to spend time with his family.

"We are thankful for Mike's career here in Toronto and appreciate his work to win games for us and be a team guy," Rita said. "This does not come as a surprise to us and we have worked this off-season recruiting kickers to fill this vacancy.

"More announcements are imminent."

Mike Vanderjagt (Photo: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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