Dan Bailey is money.
Now, Dan Bailey has the money. Today, Dallas signed their career field goal percentage leader to a six-year extension that will keep him in Dallas through the 2020 season. The deal will average about $3.3 million per season, making Bailey the fifth-highest paid kicker in the sport.
It appears that Dallas will be giving him an extension on top of his RFA 2014 season, meaning he's on board for the next seven years.
Good tricks w numbers by #cowboys on Bailey contract. Source tells me it's 'his RFA year + 6 years.' That can mean 1st yr = #2.1M or so— mike fisher (@fishsports) January 23, 2014
There was some concern over whether or not Dallas would actually pony up money for a kicker, something they have been reluctant to do in the past. But just like drafting an offensive lineman in the first round, the brass is proving that memes are meant to be broken.
Three years ago, Dallas brought Bailey into their training camp as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State to compete with David Beuhler, a player they had spent a fifth-round pick on in the 2009 draft that had been the model of inconsistency. Built like a linebacker, Beuhler consistently kicked like one, leading the team to search for another solution. That same camp, the team also brought in an injured Kai Forbath as an insurance policy.
Quickly, Bailey would show that neither of the other two players were necessary and over the following three seasons, he's shown that they needn't worry about the position at all.
Over the first three years of his career, Bailey has a 90.8% completion rate on his kicks. Each season, he has improved his long distance kicks. In 2011, he made 50% of kicks over 50 yards, in 2012 he bumped the number up to 60%. Last season, Bailey nailed an astonishing 6 of 7 kicks (86%) from long distance. His increased leg power also shows up in his kickoff game, where he nailed 52 touchbacks on the year, tied for fourth in the league.
Bailey ended 2013 nailing his last 21 kicks, and his game-winner against the New York Giants was the 8th of his short career.
The kick percentage only tells part of the story about his accuracy. "Split'Em", as he was affectionately nicknamed by yours truly, makes nearly every kick right down the middle of the uprights. It got to the point where Rabblerousr and I would joke that 8 inches wide of dead center meant an off-kick for him.
It's been almost two decades since Dallas has been blessed with this kind of consistency in the kicking game. This time, the franchise made sure that it wasn't going to let it walk out the door.
Former kicking coach Chris Boniol had similar success to Bailey in the 90's. A fellow UDFA, Boniol was highly accurate (87%) with the team, but because of cap constraints, Dallas was unable to match the offer of the Philadelphia Eagles when Boniol became an RFA after the 1996 season. The Cowboys made sure that wouldn't happen this time around.
Near the end of the season, I had predicted Dallas would make him the sixth-highest paid kicker. Kudos to the team for the bump up.
Now, Dallas' money men will turn their attention to their 2014 unrestricted crop, and possible extensions for Pro Bowlers Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant, both scheduled to become free agents entering 2015.
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