On the surface, the kicker position doesn’t seem to have a big impact to NFL teams.
They only see the field for a handful of minutes combined in a game, they only have one singular job to do, and they don’t have the pressure of leading a team down the field for a game winning drive or the pressure of a defense needing to provide a goal line stand.
But let’s not kid ourselves — kickers are important. They can make the difference between a team losing by one point or winning by one point. Time and time again, they are depended upon to hit a game-winning or game-tying field goal in the waning seconds of a close contest.
The Dallas Cowboys have a very good kicker in Dan Bailey, and they need to give him a contract extension.
Bailey’s contract expires after this upcoming season — when he will make $555,000 – and throughout his short time in the NFL, he has been one of the league’s best kickers. In two seasons with the Cowboys, Bailey has hit the target on 89.7 percent of his kicks (61 of 68) including second-place tie in 2012 at 93.5 percent, a seven-spot jump from his rookie year of 2011. Bailey was 13-for-13 last season from 30-39 yards, 7-for-7 from 40-49 and a respectable 3-for-5 from 50 yards and beyond.
More than stats though, the Cowboys simply need to find continuity at the kicker position, something that they have lacked in recent years, and Bailey provides that.
He is 25-years old, and would provide the Cowboys with their kicker for the foreseeable future. Cowboys fans will know the name David Akers, the former Philadelphia Eagles kicker who spent 11 years with the Cowboys’ divisional rival from 1999-2010 as a perennial pro bowler, and can use him as an example of what continuity at that position can do for a franchise.
The Cowboys recent kicking history has seen anything but stability, as Nick Folk, their 2007 sixth-round draft pick, was good for his first two seasons before going 18-for-28 in his final year in Big D in 2008. 2009 draft pick David Buehler was known for his strong leg, but accuracy wasn’t his strong suit, and he was let go in 2011.
Prior to that, the Cowboys had two veterans – Martin Gramatica and Mike Vanderjagt – try their hand at giving the team an adequate kicking option. In five games in the 2006 season, Gramatica wasn’t half bad, going 6-for-8, but Vanderjagt, one of the most accurate kickers in history, was a major disappointment, going 13-for-18 in 10 games for the Cowboys, also in 2006.
Before those two, Jose Cortez appeared in seven games in 2005, as well as Shaun Suisham in 2005 and 2006.
For those scoring at home, that’s six kickers in eight seasons, hardly a recipe for success and certainly not an example of position continuity.
The Cowboys have a chance, by re-signing Bailey, to solidify a position that has been hardly kind to them over the years – and given the offense’s propensity for red zone ineptitude, Dan Bailey is a must.