As the days of summer heat up, so does the anticipation for a new NFL season. At the end of this month, the Dallas Cowboys will open training camp as we anxiously await the return of this year’s iteration of America’s Team. Players and fans alike should feel good about this team and its direction.
After a solid draft and retaining several integral players, the Cowboys have the look of a contender. When asked about the difference between the Cowboys and their rival foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence said the gap is not a huge one.
How far is the gap between the NFC champion Eagles and the Cowboys? Dallas star DE DeMarcus Lawrence tells @RobMaaddi "it's not a huge gap at all."— AP NFL (@AP_NFL) June 17, 2023
Listen to the full interview on the AP Pro Football Podcast: https://t.co/XBzL09udzq pic.twitter.com/R3DicSAWD5
Lawrence might have a solid case after the offseason the team has had thus far. Equipped with a fantastic defense and a potent offense, Dallas boasts one of the more well-rounded rosters in the league. They added two very good veterans by trade (Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore) which solved two glaring concerns. Now, the team has added another reliable threat on offense and has a proven player opposite of Trevon Diggs.
More importantly, throughout the roster, the team has depth. So much depth that some argue it’s a surplus of talent. Finding a spot on this roster is going to take a lot of work for some. It’s an excellent problem to have in and of itself. Suppose you believe that iron sharpens iron. The Cowboys undoubtedly are primed to have one of the most competitive and chippiest training camps in the NFL by virtue of sheer talent vying to make the 53-man roster.
The organization as a whole has a lot to prove. Mike McCarthy has to prove he’s the right coach to lead the Cowboys to a deep playoff run; Dak Prescott has to prove last year was an anomaly regarding his turnover troubles, and the team has to show they’re ready to compete at the highest level. Yet, with seemingly so much on the line this season, and so many players under pressure to perform, kicker Tristan Vizcaino is heading to camp with no competition on the team as of right now.
The Cowboys had a reliable kicker for a few years when Dan Bailey served as the team’s placekicker. Unexpectedly, Bailey lost his way, forcing the Cowboys to part ways with the ex-All-Pro and give Brett Maher his first of two tries as the team’s kicker.
After turning to Maher, the results were mixed in his first stint, leaving the Cowboys to go the proven route and sign Greg Zeurlein from the Los Angeles Rams. Despite a reputation of being an excellent kicker with a big leg, Zeurlein wasn’t necessarily a model of consistency, and metaphorically shrugging their shoulders, the front office once again looked to Maher to handle kicking duties.
Although Maher improved in his second stint with the Cowboys, his performance sharply declined in the postseason, and the Cowboys are back to square one with their kicking complications. Whether it’s the team once again sheepishly knowing they don’t have much choice or sheer confidence in the player personnel evaluations, Tristan Vizcaino will have every opportunity to earn the starting job this summer and beyond. The question is, why?
Since going undrafted in 2018, Vizcaino would be starting fresh with an NFL club for the eleventh time. While he has made nine of his ten field goal attempts, his longest-made kick is only 47 yards. He’s yet to attempt a kick longer than 50. It’s a major gamble to take with so much at stake this season. The Cowboys have made noise about signing another kicker, but it has yet to happen.
Dallas has other choices available to compete with Vizcaino if they so choose. Veterans Robbie Gould and Mason Crosby are available, and it wouldn’t hurt to try to lure one of them into camp to have a better perspective on the kicking landscape at large.
Maybe Vizcaino works out in training camp and the team can rest easy at night, but how long will the team stand by before they bring in competition? They need to give the young kicker some reason to feel pressure when most of the 90-man roster is under the same conditions. If the pressure of competition in camp is too much to bear, then the pressure of kicking under the bright lights of the season’s opening day makes camp pale in comparison. The Cowboys need to get another kicker under contract once they hit Oxnard to create some true competition.
With the margin between the Eagles and Cowboys being so close, the team needs to create competition at kicker just like they have for the rest of the roster. Sometime between now and the first few days of training camp, they need to bring in another kicker to compete. Iron sharpens iron.
Who would you prefer the Cowboys sign. An established veteran like Robbie Gould or Mason Crosby? Or maybe one of the guys making a name in the XFL or USFL? Hit the comments and let us know your ideal kicker addition.