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Two years later, Cowboys' move to lock up Dan Bailey looks smarter

IRVING, Texas – ESPN Insiders recently came up with the most player-friendly and team-friendly contracts for each team.

Because Dez Bryant was on the roster the fifth day of the 2016 league year, the final part of his $45 million guarantee -- his $13 million base salary in 2013 -- became fully guaranteed, and that was deemed the most player-friendly deal for the Dallas Cowboys.

The most team-friendly deal was for running back Alfred Morris, who signed a two-year deal worth $3.5 million that included $1.8 million guaranteed. That’s not a bad answer, but I don’t know if it is the most team-friendly with Morris’ role being limited to a degree because of Ezekiel Elliott.

Some NFL observers will cynically say left tackle Tyron Smith has the most team-friendly deal because he could have gotten more than the $98 million extension he received in 2014. At 26, Smith's base salaries from 2017 to 2020 stay flat at $10 million each year.

But after seeing what Baltimore paid kicker Justin Tucker last week before the franchise-tag deadline kicked in, I think the most team-friendly deal for the Cowboys belongs to their kicker, Dan Bailey.

Tucker received a $6 million signing bonus on his four-year, $16.8 million deal, which included $10.8 million guaranteed.

In 2014, the Cowboys signed Bailey, an undrafted free agent, to a seven-year deal worth $22.5 million that included $7.5 million guaranteed. At the time, the Cowboys were criticized in some circles for a seven-year deal to a kicker.

The Cowboys knew Bailey’s importance to the team, considering how many close games they play, and they were willing to take the chance. Since signing the deal, Bailey has become the most accurate kicker in NFL history and was named to the Pro Bowl after last season.

He is also signed through 2020, and his base salaries never top more than $3.4 million. The Cowboys can sleep easy knowing a vital part of their offense is locked up for a long time at a good price.