The roster turnover has begun. Free agency is here, and the 2017 NFL Draft isn’t far behind it. Over the next two months, the Cowboys will lose and replace a sizable portion of their roster.
For every new face, however, there are dozens of familiar ones that will return to begin a new campaign. From established veterans to second-year players, the vast majority of the Cowboys’ 2017 team is already on the roster. In the coming weeks, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will preview those players, analyzing where they’ve been and where they’re going.
The series continues with kicker Dan Bailey.
What’s Been Good: Well, let’s start here: according to Pro Football Reference, Bailey ranks second all-time in career field goal percentage (89.52), trailing only Baltimore’s Justin Tucker (89.840). Bailey has been remarkably consistent since joining the Cowboys as a rookie free agent in 2011. He has appeared in every game of his six-year career, making 171 of 191 field goal attempts and a perfect 250 of 250 extra point tries. In 2016, although his 84.4 field goal percentage (27-of-32) was statistically the lowest of his career, he was 10-of-10 on field goals in the fourth quarter. He also drilled a career-high 57 touchbacks.
What’s Been Bad: Bailey dealt with a back injury for at least part of last season. He was listed as “questionable” for the Week 4 game at San Francisco and made 1 of 2 field goal tries, missing from 47 yards on the Cowboys’ opening drive. Bailey would make 15 of 15 attempts over the next nine games until a 55-yard try hit the crossbar in a 10-7 loss to the New York Giants on Dec. 11. The following week against Tampa Bay, he had two more narrow misses from 56 and 52 yards – the first time since his rookie year he’s missed two in a game. Bailey expressed disappointment after the game, but one reason he’s been successful is he’s able to block out the last kick in his mind, make or miss.
2016 Highlight: Bailey’s 21-yard field goal in the final two minutes gave the Cowboys a two-score lead in an eventual 27-17 victory over Baltimore in Week 11 – and made him the franchise’s all-time leader in field goal conversions (163).
What’s Next: Signed through 2020, Bailey remains a fixture on the roster with his consistent and clutch kicks. He’s always quick to credit the entire kicking operation, and punter Chris Jones and long snapper L.P. Ladouceur are signed through 2017.