FRISCO, Texas -- Since April 13, the Dallas Cowboys have cut the franchise leader in touchdown catches (Dez Bryant) and the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history (Dan Bailey). They also lost the franchise leader in receptions, games played and games started (Jason Witten) to retirement.
Not only aren’t these your father’s Cowboys, they might not be your older brother’s Cowboys either.
Other roster thoughts:
If there was a kicking competition between Bailey and Brett Maher, why didn’t the Cowboys give Bailey a chance at more than one field-goal try in the four preseason games?
Bailey made 42-of-47 field-goal attempts during special-teams drills and 11-on-11 work during the Cowboys’ time in Oxnard, California. When asked about Bailey’s struggles over a two-practice span, coach Jason Garrett brushed it off, reminding everyone of the kicker’s total body of work over the years.
The decision to release Bailey was not because of the salary cap but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t financial. He was set to make $3.4 million this year. Maher is making $480,000. If Bailey was injured again or struggled out of the gate, the Cowboys would have been on the hook for his salary.
So what was it? Well, until anybody from the organization comments officially on the decision, it’s up for anyone’s guess.
So here is a thought: The Cowboys were getting out a year too early as opposed to a year too late. Other successful teams have made this sort of move (the New England Patriots come to mind) but this decision was just out of the blue and it adds another question for first-time special-teams coordinator Keith O’Quinn to answer.
The Cowboys’ interior line depth became exposed when they lost Marcus Martin to a season-ending toe injury in the first preseason game and then saw Travis Frederick come down with Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
They made a trade for Parker Ehinger, who started five of the six games he played in during two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, giving up only an undrafted cornerback in Charvarius Ward. They claimed Adam Redmond off waivers from the Buffalo Bills.
In a perfect world, the Cowboys won’t have to use either of them in 2018 but they know the world is never perfect. At least for the early part of the season it would not be surprising to see Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin serve as the backup center on game day.
Using Garrett’s "body of work" comment as a backdrop, the Cowboys are currently sticking with Cooper Rush as Dak Prescott’s backup, despite his struggles in the preseason with four interceptions and one touchdown.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones was despondent for days after he failed to move back into the first round with a trade to take Lynch. The Broncos gave the Seattle Seahawks more than the Cowboys were willing to go. That a team would give up on a first-round pick after two years speaks to how badly Lynch played. He has nearly $2 million remaining in guaranteed money on his rookie deal that a team would have to assume should they claim Lynch.
The Cowboys have the cap space and Jones has a history of taking chances on high-round picks that failed to perform up to expectation in their first NFL home. Would he take another chance on a player he coveted leading into the 2016 draft?
If the Cowboys can cut Bailey, anything is possible.