Can you believe there was a time when the Dallas Cowboys had the most accurate kicker in NFL history? Can you also believe that there was a time when that said kicker started his NFL career making his first 273 extra-point attempts? And can you believe this amazing kicker went a stretch of 81 consecutive games without ever missing multiple field goals in the same game? Of course you can, because for the better part of a decade, the Cowboys had one of the most dependable foots in the game courtesy of one Dan Bailey.
Such a period seems like such a long time ago because, for the last several years, the Cowboys kicking game hasn’t been all that reliable. It started with the sudden decline of Dan Bailey, who injured his groin in the middle of the 2017 season. Not surprisingly, Bailey had the worst performance of his NFL career that year, even missing his first-ever PAT.
The Cowboys recognized that Bailey wasn’t the same guy that they relied on for so many years and released him right before the start of the 2018 season in favor of veteran Canadian Football League kicker Brett Maher. For what it’s worth, Bailey went on to kick for the Minnesota Vikings where he sandwiched one good season (2019) in between two poor ones.
Strangely enough, Maher was initially signed by the Cowboys as a rookie in 2013 to handle pre-season kicking duties while preserving an ailing Bailey; however, once the regular season started, Maher was waived. After four years playing in Canada, Maher was given a second chance in Dallas where his kicking antics offered no shortage of excitement. Maher was erratic as he offered up a box of chocolate sorts of results. He would shank the easy ones, but then turn around and hit some boomers. Despite playing in just 29 games as the team’s kicker, Maher holds the franchise record for the four-longest field goals made (63, 62, 62, and 59). That’s absurd.
Finally having enough, the Cowboys moved on from Maher in the latter part of 2019 and replaced him with veteran Kai Forbath to finish out the year. Forbath punished the Cowboys organization for dragging their feet in releasing Maher by making all 20 of his attempts, 10/10 in field goals, and 10/10 in PATs.
The Cowboys decided to ante up some cash for a “reliable” kicker in 2020 by signing veteran kicking ace Greg Zuerlein in free agency. Unfortunately, Zuerlein was showing signs of that same seven-year-twitch that Bailey endured as his accuracy started to falter. The Cowboys were banking on it being injury-related, but his time in Dallas proved to be equally as adventurous as it had been for the Cowboys in the previous four seasons before he showed up. Coincidentally, Zuerlein finished with the exact same field goal percentage (82.9%) in each of his two seasons with the Cowboys. Unfortunately, he was absolutely horrible at PATs, missing a combined nine extra points in that span.
Here is a year-by-year breakdown of the field goal percentage of the team’s primary kicker dating back to Bailey’s first season in the league in 2011.
While field goal accuracy has shown a decline since the good Bailey years, the extra points have been even more disappointing.
Zuerlein was released this offseason and the team appears to be rolling with another UDFA rookie this year in Jonathan Garibay. The Texas Tech star is one of the nation’s top college kickers and he’s off to a nice start in camp. The Cowboys currently do not have any other kicker on the roster. While that could change as healthy competition is important, the team is putting a lot of faith in their young kicker.
Do you think Garibay will be the Cowboys' answer at kicker or do you think another kicker will eventually show up and earn the job?