The Cowboys go into the offseason wondering about former Pro Bowl punter Mat McBriar.
He was placed on injured reserve the day before the Cowboys regular season finale at the New York Giants. McBriar had nerve damage in his left (non-kicking) foot for the last two months of the season. There was a thought the foot would get better and it didn't. McBriar is a free agent now and there are some concerns about signing him long-term.
He's been one of the NFL's best punters, having gone to the Pro Bowl in 2006 and 2010. But in 2011, he averaged 43.8 yards per punt, good for just 22nd in the league and 11th in the NFC.
He missed two games because of his health, replaced by Chris Jones.
"I mean, look to be honest I felt like I didn’t feel myself out there," McBriar said. "I didn’t feel like I was giving us an advantage at all. I really thought I was a hindrance that’s what made me change my thought process, I went from being a guy who was helping the team out to going the other way around."
The team talked with McBriar for several weeks about the progress of his foot and why it wasn't getting better. He thought it was a four-to-six week injury and it ended up costing him his season. McBriar admitted he couldn't kick now and he's seeking second opinions regarding treatment and possible surgery.
McBriar is in a difficult decision because if he tests the market opposing teams will need a strong medical evaluation on his foot. The Cowboys could re-sign McBriar to a short-term deal knowing his health better than most NFL teams.
"It's not the greatest of timing but I'm just really looking for it coming back to what it was, that’s my only thought right now," McBriar said. "I get healthy and we’ll see what happens."