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Cowboys free agency 2022: Special teams are going through a makeover once again

There will be a new kicking unit in Dallas next season.

Las Vegas Raiders v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

With all the news surrounding the Dallas Cowboys in the past few days, the special teams unit is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind. While it certainly isn’t as important or headline-grabbing as the Randy Gregory saga or DeMarcus Lawrence contract, it still does carry some weight.

Last week, reports came out that the Cowboys were likely parting ways with Pro Bowl punter Bryan Anger. This comes after the 33-year-old was arguably the best punter in football during the 2021 season.

A few days later, the Cowboys announced that they had released their kicker, veteran Greg Zuerlein. While he did miss some untimely kicks, Zuerlein converted field goals at an 82.9% clip last season, a little bit higher than his career average.

With Zuerlein out the door and Anger not returning, the Cowboys’ kicking game will once again require a complete overhaul. Since the days of Dan Bailey and prime Chris Jones, Dallas has struggled to find consistency at the kicker and punter spots. When they find Zuerlein’s replacement, the Cowboys will have a new kicker on the team for the third time in four seasons.

If the Cowboys look to replace Zuerlein in free agency, Randy Bullock and Michael Badgley are two names to keep in mind. Bullock converted 83.9% on his field goals last season and 93% of his PATs. Badgley was lower on his field goal conversion at 81.8% but converted an impressive 98% of his PATs.

As for the punter position, if the Cowboys decide to go cheap they could roll with 27-year-old Hunter Niswander, who punted in eight games for the Cowboys in 2020. If they decide to spend some money, Dallas could reunite recently-released Johnny Hekker with his former special teams coach, John Fassel.

It might not be at the top of Dallas’ to-do list, but finding a new kicker and punter is important. We saw just how much missed kicks and good punts affected the Cowboys last season, both negatively and positively. Let’s hope they find someone at both positions who can bring some stability to this special teams unit.