Dallas Cowboys: Phil Dawson

Why Dan Bailey's signing makes sense

January, 24, 2014
Jan 24
11:45
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IRVING, Texas -- The reaction when news broke of kicker Dan Bailey's seven-year, $22.5 million deal contract with the Dallas Cowboys was somewhat mixed, which had me surprised.

Bailey
The Cowboys have won 24 games the last three seasons and Bailey has won a third of them with game-winning field goals. To me, the Cowboys were smart to lock Bailey up to a long-term deal because they play close games and there is a premium on having an accurate kicker.

By the middle of next season, if Bailey holds form, he would be the NFL’s most accurate kicker ever with a minimum of 100 made attempts.

But some of you got caught up in the Cowboys "paying" a kicker, when they have so many other needs. My response would be to re-read the second and third paragraphs and now take a look at the breakdown of his deal.

Bailey received a $4 million signing bonus and $7.5 million is guaranteed on the deal. In what can be considered "new money," Bailey’s $3.4 million average makes him the fifth-highest paid kicker in the game. When viewed as a seven-year deal it puts him inside the top 10.

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Bailey will receive base salaries of $900,000, $1.7 million (2015), $2.5 million (2016), $3.2 million (2017) and $3.4 million (2018-2020). His cap number in 2014 is $1.7 million, which is roughly $500,000 lower than what he would have counted if the Cowboys just gave him the $2.124 million second-round tender as a restricted free agent. His cap number in 2015 is $2.5 million, which is less than what the franchise tag would have been had he hit unrestricted free agency.

His cap number tops out at $4.2 million in 2018. Considering the kickers coming up behind him, like Justin Tucker and Greg Zuerlein, the Cowboys could be staring at a bargain by then. Yes, I realize all of this is predicated on Bailey remaining ultra-clutch and ultra-accurate. There has been no reason to think he won’t.

And there is also age to consider.

Bailey turns 26 on Sunday. Kickers can last a long, long time. Adam Vinatieri is 41. Phil Dawson turned 39 on Thursday. Jay Feely is 37. Matt Bryant is 38. They are all effective kickers.

It is easy to criticize the Cowboys for just about any signing when they are in the middle of such a playoff drought, but criticizing the signing of Bailey is as off as a Mike Vanderjagt field goal circa 2006.

Wild-card games show Bailey's importance

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
11:15
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IRVING, Texas -- Two games on wild-card weekend were decided by field goals.

The New Orleans Saints beat the Philadelphia Eagles 26-24 on a 32-yard kick by Shayne Graham on Saturday. Lake Highland’s Phil Dawson helped the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers with a 33-yard field goal as time expired.

Bailey
Having a reliable kicker in the NFL nowadays is a must with how close the games are each week.

The Kansas City Chiefs chose to attempt to convert a fourth-and-17 from the Indianapolis Colts 43 instead of giving Ryan Succop a chance to make a 60-yarder. Succop made all three of his attempts Saturday, but did his late-season struggles lead the Chiefs to not even think about the long kick in a dome stadium?

Although a 60-yard try might have been ridiculed, too.

The Cowboys have one of the most reliable in Dan Bailey, who has missed only four of his last 61 field goal attempts the past two seasons. A case could have been made for Bailey to make the Pro Bowl over Justin Tucker or Matt Prater, but there were other kickers with solid arguments as well for a free trip to Hawaii.

Bailey will be a restricted free agent in March, and he is in a good spot.

At the very least the Cowboys will put the second-round tender on Bailey, which would pay him $2.124 million in 2014. Because he was undrafted in 2011, they have no other option. They could opt to put the right-of-first-refusal tender on him worth $1.389 million but would not receive any compensation in return if he signed an offer sheet with another team.

What the Cowboys should do – and can do despite the salary-cap issues – is sign Bailey to a multiyear deal where they would in effect buy out his chance at unrestricted free agency. They did it a few years ago with Jermey Parnell. They did it last year with Barry Church and Phil Costa.

The Chicago Bears signed Robbie Gould to a four-year, $15 million deal that included $9 million guaranteed. Gould is older and has a Pro Bowl to his credit. He was also set to be an unrestricted free agent.

Only once before has owner and general manager Jerry Jones ponied up for a kicker. In 2006, he gave Mike Vanderjagt a three-year, $5.4 million deal that included a $2.5 million signing bonus, and Vanderjagt did not last the season.

Bailey is no Vanderjagt.

He turns 26 later this month and is an ascending player with an immense amount of respect in the locker room. Teammates voted him the special teams’ captain in 2013.

Finding a middle ground should not be a problem for a player Jason Garrett said does his job as well as anybody the Cowboys have.

W2W4: Cowboys vs. Browns

November, 18, 2012
11/18/12
9:00
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ARLINGTON -- The Cowboys are home for the next three weeks and must take on one of the worst teams in the NFL in Cleveland (2-7) at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Here's a preview:

The series: This is the first time the Cleveland Browns have played at Cowboys Stadium. The last time these teams faced each other was in 2008, when the Cowboys beat the Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium, 28-10. Cleveland leads the all-time series at 15-11 but is 6-7 in road games. Cleveland's last victory against the Cowboys came in 1994. Dallas has played them twice since then.

Who's playing: Don't expect running back DeMarco Murray to play today, he'll miss his fifth consecutive game with a sprained foot. Felix Jones will start. Cornerback Mike Jenkins is doubtful with a sore back, but don't expect him to participate. Cleveland had five cornerbacks listed on the injury report Friday, which included starting left corner Joe Haden. He didn't practice Friday with a oblique injury and is listed as questionable.

Will we see more turnovers?: The Cowboys intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble in the victory against the Philadelphia Eagles last week. Will we see more against the Cleveland Browns? As a team, the Browns are plus-1 in the turnover-ratio, tied for 12th in the NFL. However, rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has thrown 12 interceptions on the season, second most in the league to Dallas' Tony Romo (13 picks). Romo hasn't committed a turnover the last two weeks.

A new center today: The Cowboys will have their third different starter at center today when Mackenzy Bernadeau moves from right guard to center with Ryan Cook (knee) not expected to play. Derrick Dockery will move to right guard. Starter Phil Costa is out with a right ankle sprain and still has a slight limp when he walks.

Stopping Trent Richardson: Coach Jason Garrett said you have to get population to the ball when the Browns rookie running back gets the ball. Richardson is 16th in rushing yards (575) and third among rookies. Overall, Cleveland is just 27th in the NFL in rushing offense and the Cowboys' defense is 13th against the run.

Ohio ties all around: Let's start with the obvious ones. Garrett went to The University School, a high school in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, with his brothers -- tight ends coach John and director of pro scouting Judd. Rob Ryan was the Browns defensive coordinator for three seasons (2009-2010). Ryan had a slew of coaches with him in Cleveland from Matt Eberflus, Jerome Henderson, Keith O'Quinn and Ben Bloom. Fullback Lawrence Vickers played for Cleveland from 2006 to 2010.

Texas roots, too: Oh yeah, don't forget Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson (who hasn't missed a point-after-attempt or field goal) went to Lake Highlands High School and the University of Texas. Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon and defensive lineman Phil Taylor went to Baylor. Quarterback Colt McCoy is from Tuscola, Texas, and played at Texas.

Home record is what again?: The Cowboys are 14-13 at Cowboys Stadium since it opened in 2009, but in November they are an impressive 6-1. With the stadium roof closed, the Cowboys are 8-0, but with it opened, the Cowboys are 1-5. However, with the roof open and the plaza doors closed, the Cowboys are 2-0. With the roof closed and the plaza doors open, Dallas is 3-0.

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