The NFL draft is a few short weeks away, and the Dallas Cowboys are busy turning over every stone as it pertains to the incoming crop of talent waiting to hear their name called later this month. Given the job they have done acquiring veteran talent earlier this offseason, they’ve set themselves up well to enter the draft with an open outlook.
However, there’s one order of business the team seems to be kicking down the road on. The Cowboys have yet to address their need for a placekicker since Brett Maher unraveled in the postseason. The team has taken a few approaches with kickers in the last few seasons.
First, they brought in Greg Zuerlein, who was handpicked by special teams coach John Fassel. Zeuerlein regressed in his second year with the team and was subsequently not retained after 2021. The aforementioned Maher was a familiar face that likely was the reluctant choice of the front office going into this season after Jonathan Garibay struggled to find consistency last summer.
Dallas, a team with aspirations of a deep playoff run, cannot be hampered by chasing lost points at the hands of an unreliable kicker and must find a suitable solution. Here are the current options at kicker.
Option 1: Promote from within
Currently, the only kicker on the roster is Tristan Vizcaino. Turning the job over to Vizcaino wouldn’t inspire much hope from the fanbase since Vizcaino has struggled to cement himself with a team long enough to establish himself as a trusted veteran.
Since going undrafted in 2018, Vizcaino has played for ten different NFL clubs and now is on his second stint with the Cowboys. The bright side is Vizcaino made nine of his ten field goal attempts (90%). Yet, the team would be foolish to hand him the job without competition.
Option 2: Sign a veteran kicker
The two most prominent names on the market are Robbie Gould and Mason Crosby. Gould has been one of the most consistent kickers throughout his career, having a span from 2016-2018 in which Gould made 82 of 85 field goal tries (96.4%). Gould, however, was more erratic last season between 40-49 yards, missing four of eleven kicks in that range.
Crosby, on the other hand, has been all over the place in recent years, alternating one good season with a shaky one. Crosby’s familiarity with head coach Mike McCarthy dating back to their years in Green Bay will once again bring a familiar face into the fold that has a connection to the current coaching staff.
For both veterans, it would come down to price and what the team feels comfortable offering. Both veterans were making, on average, at or above $4M annually under their last contracts respectively. Given where both kickers are with their performance that might be a hill too steep to climb leading to the Cowboys’ last option.
Option 3: Draft a kicker
The Cowboys’ last option is to draft a kicker. The team hasn’t drafted a kicker since David Buehler in 2009, which yielded mixed results, and before that, Nick Folk, who earned Pro Bowl honors as a rookie. The Cowboys could elect to go that route during this year’s draft.
One kicker that could be on their radar is Michigan Wolverine Jake Moody. Moody was exceptional in 2021 and made 92 percent of his field goal attempts. He did struggle from 50 yards or more but was excellent inside of 40 yards last season. Jack Podlesny from Georgia is another name to watch in the NFL. Still, Podlesny has struggled with accuracy inside of 40 yards and doesn’t have the long-distance this team covets.