Let’s say a football team drives up and down the field. In fact, let’s say this football team drives up and down the field and gains more yards than any other team in the league. I think some of us might be familiar with this said team. And let’s say that they drive down the field into chip shot field goal range, only to shank one wide right and come away with no points. Unfortunately, that was the story all too many times for the 2019 Dallas Cowboys.
After the nicest guy on the planet, Brett Maher, missed 10 field goals last year, the Cowboys decided to go a different direction and finally released him with three games left in the season. Better late than never, eh?
Maher’s ten missed field goals were replaced by Kai Forbath, who just so happen to go 10-for-10 during his three-game stint with the Cowboys. To this day, no kicker has ever made more than 10 kicks in just 10 attempts, so yeah, that’s pretty good.
The contrast in kickers was so pleasant to the Cowboys organization that they signed Forbath to a one-year, $1,187,500 deal for the 2020 season. However, only his $137,500 signing bonus was guaranteed, so really he provided a decent floor and just served as an insurance policy if the team couldn’t find something better.
Well, a week later, they found something better. Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein signed a three-year, $7.5 million deal with the Cowboys, with $2.25 million of that being guaranteed.
Now, a couple things to keep in mind about the money here. On paper, the Cowboys made a bigger financial kicker commitment in Zuerlein, however, the front office wasn’t married to either of these contracts. The dead money from Zuerlein isn’t going to prevent the team from keeping the better kicker.
So, who is the better kicker?
Zuerlein has the bigger leg of the two, but Forbath has proven himself to be a pretty accurate kicker, holding a higher career conversion percentage (87%) than Zuerlein (82%). And this is especially true as of late. Forbath was perfect in ten field goal attempts last season, whereas Zuerlein missed nine field goals, only one less than Maher. Even more amazing is that of Zuerlein’s nine misses a year ago, six of them were from 40-49 yards. Forbath, on the other hand, has missed six kicks from 40-49 yards over his ENTIRE CAREER! So, what do the Cowboys want, the power or the accuracy?
How about both?
Everyone expected a good old fashion kicking battle to determine who’s worthy to hold down the Cowboys kicker roster spot. But alas, that battle is over before it even began. Why would they do that? Why not let these two kick it out in training camp? I mean, what’s the harm in that?
Well, this really wasn’t a battle of which kicker is better, but rather a test of whether Zuerlein is back to his old self. Over the last two seasons, he’s dealt with both a groin and quad injury, and those are two important muscle groups for a kicker. If he’s at full strength, then there really isn’t anything to battle. It’s Greg’s gig. And with fewer chances to get reps from an abbreviated training camp, the Cowboys want to give Zuerlein as many opportunities as they can. If for any reason, he shows signs of struggle, there stands a good chance they can just go out and bring back Forbath. For all intent and purposes, the kicking battle is still ongoing; it’s just going look a little differently than we imagined.
Right now, the Cowboys must feel pretty good about what they have in Zuerlein. And if it’s the old Greg, that’s going to mean good things for the Cowboys kicking game.
Here is the list of kickers who have made a playoff game-winning field goal longer than Greg Zuerlein:— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 1, 2020
Nobody summons Legatron!