The Cowboys released Dan Bailey, the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history, Saturday. Here’s why they made the move.
- The Cowboys’ confidence in Bailey began to wane when he made only eight of 13 field goals and missed two PATs in the last five games after returning from a groin injury. A shanked 23-yard field goal in the finale against Philadelphia really made the Cowboys consider that Bailey had lost confidence.
“I think the biggest thing you would look at is he's had some injuries over the last couple of years," coach Jason Garrett said. "He had a back two years ago, had the groin last year."
“Obviously, he didn't kick his best down the stretch last year, a lot of different reasons for that.”
- Bailey’s overall field goal percentage had declined each of the last three seasons from 93.8 to 84.4 to 75.0.
“Obviously, Dan has been as good of a player as we've had around here over the last seven or eight years,” Garrett said. “He's one of the elite kickers in the game and has been throughout his career, made a ton of big kicks for us.”
- Bailey was scheduled to earn $3.4 million this season, while Brett Maher will earn $480,000. The Cowboys didn’t view Bailey as $2.8 million - or six times - better than Maher.
“There is a business side to the game as well that is certainly a factor in making a decision like this,” Garrett said. “You have to allocate dollars to certain guys and you have to decide where you can maybe save some money and save some salary cap space."
- When Bailey missed four of five field goals in a two-day stretch at training camp it reminded Cowboys of last five games of 2017 and it helped create a competition that intensified as training camp continued. The Cowboys were impressed by Maher’s professionalism and consistency from the time the off-season began.
"One of the things that gave us confidence was how well Brett Maher has kicked both in practice and in games,” Garrett said. “We feel like he has an opportunity to help our football team in that role."
- Even though kickoffs are being de-emphasized by the NFL, Maher’s kickoffs were deemed better and his leg stronger.
- The 57-yard field goal Maher made against Houston was one more notch in his favor and contributed to his overall body of work.
“When we put the whole thing together and decided what was the best for our football team, this is the decision we felt we had to make,” Garrett said. “It was a hard decision. There is no question about that. We went back and forth on it, we discussed it a great deal.”