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Dan Bailey wasn’t automatic for the Cowboys anymore which made his release possible

Cowboys shockingly cut Dan Bailey, but maybe it wasn’t so shocking.

Los Angeles Chargers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Cowboys adding Dan Bailey’s name to their cuts list sent shock waves all over Cowboys social media. How could the Dallas Cowboys release the second-most accurate kicker in the history of the National Football League? Better yet, how could the release the most accurate kicker in the history of the Dallas Cowboys? The answer is because that accuracy that he’s so well-known for took some hits in the last two years:

Since the Cowboys found Dan Bailey back in 2011, he’s had some amazing moments. The many game-winning layups from Tony Romo to Bailey made them both Cowboys legends forever. With that said, those numbers for Dan Bailey over the past two seasons are not very comforting and missing four games last year didn’t help either.

Just a a few years ago, when Dan Bailey lined up to kick the field goals, most fans at the stadium would go to the bathroom. He truly was automatic but you can’t deny that drop in accuracy. These last two seasons really changed everything for him and the Cowboys obviously were much more concerned than we thought. Last year he dealt with a nasty groin injury that he had suffered on a kickoff in San Francisco. Bailey would miss the next four games but was back by Thanksgiving. Though he had returned, it wasn’t the same Dan Bailey that everyone was accustomed to.

In week 14, Bailey missed two field goals and an extra point in New York though the Cowboys still dominated the Giants 30-10. On Christmas Eve, with the Cowboys postseason on the line, he would two field goals against the Seahawks that effectively helped end their season. In the Cowboys meaningless final game, Bailey missed his only field goal attempt and also missed the extra point but the Cowboys hung on 6-0.

Last season, Bailey missed five field goals and two extra points leaving many perplexed as to what exactly was going on with him. Did the Cowboys rush him back too early when he wasn’t healthy? Was he a little overeager to return to the field? All we know is that Dan Bailey hasn’t been the same and a groin injury is likely to do that to a kicker. You can argue that the Cowboys could have been more patient but kicker is the one position that NFL teams are not patient with.

Each of the last two seasons, Bailey’s accuracy has dropped over nine percent and that’s why the Cowboys are cutting him in favor of Brett Maher. Though Maher’s 57-yard field goal in the final preseason game was a surprise, it’s not the driving forced behind Bailey’s release. It’s the fact that the Cowboys are paying Dan Bailey to be an elite kicker he hasn’t been that guy of late.

At training camp in Oxnard, media guys never cared much about covering the special teams drills. This year, everyone in Cowboys media was charting all of his kicks to make sure this wasn’t a bigger issue. Turns out, Bailey missed six field goals in practices and the front office likely started to feel uneasy. Though most folks would shrug at missed kicks in practice, it’s concerning when Bailey’s $22.5 million contract is the highest total value among NFL kickers.

This has become a very shrewd front office and they’re not going to pay declining players anymore. Every time Brett Maher misses a kick this season, you can bet Dan Bailey will be mentioned but there is a major difference:

It still remains to be seen if the Cowboys will do anything with that money that they saved with Bailey’s release but we’ll soon find out. When these types of releases happen in the league, it always becomes much clearer when you follow the money. Maybe something big?

The reality of this situation is that the Cowboys were paying top market value for a kicker that wasn’t top of the line anymore.Dan Bailey was the league’s best in 2015 but took a downturn over the course of two seasons. In 2016, Bailey fell to 17th in the NFL, he followed that up by dropping to 30th last season. Those are all the reasons the Cowboys needed to make this move. When Dan Bailey stopped being automatic, he became expendable but such is life for a kicker in the NFL.

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