Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players’ impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2014 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features kicker
Name: Dan Bailey
Height/Weight: 6-0 / 191
Experience: 3 seasons
College: Oklahoma State
Key stat: Bailey was 6-of-7 on field goals of 50 yards or more. His only missed from that distance occurred in San Diego in Week 4 when he failed to connect on a 56-yard attempt at Qualcomm Stadium.
Contract Status: Signed through 2020.
2013 Impact: No player was as consistent and contributed more than Dan Bailey, who had his third straight phenomenal year, which prompted the Cowboys to do an unprecedented move in the offseason and sign him to a long-term deal that keeps him around for the next seven years. That’s how good he has been in three seasons and 2013 was no different. He was 28 of 30 on field-goal attempts and hit all but one of his seven kicks from 50 yards or more. The only other miss was a shocking 35-yarder that sailed wide against the Rams. But he responded nicely to hit 21 straight field goals, the second-longest streak of his career, which ranks fourth on the club’s all-time list. The record is 27 set by Chris Boniol, who is no longer Bailey’s kicking coach after taking a job in Oakland. Bailey was a perfect 47-of-47 on extra point attempts and his kickoffs improved dramatically as well. His 52 touchbacks tied for fourth in the NFL.
Where He Fits: He fits in rather nicely for the Cowboys, probably better for them than other teams. Look at this team the last few years – there are a lot of close games. The Cowboys don’t blow anyone out and rarely get blown either. Seven of the 16 games were within three points or less and 10 games were decided by a touchdown or less. Games come down to kicks more often than not and it’s scary to think where the Cowboys would be without a solid kicker such as Bailey. Playing indoors half of the time doesn’t hurt Bailey both on field goals and kickoffs, but he’s been rather good outdoors, too. For a team that lacks clutch players at other positions, the Cowboys should be more than thankful to have the clutch kicker they do.
He’s the most consistent player on the Cowboys, playing a position that was anything but consistent for the team before he came around. Bailey’s drilled more than 93 percent of his field goal attempts each of the last two seasons, while his long-range abilities get better every year. It’s a shame Bailey’s leg didn’t determine the outcome of more late-minute scenarios for the Cowboys last season, because they could be confident they were winning the game if it came down to a makeable field goal attempt. They’ve now got to hope they’ll get the same player for years to come after signing him to an extension, keeping him in Dallas long-term. Life as a kicker can be a fickle business, where one season is perfect and the next is a roller-coaster. That hasn’t happened for Bailey, as the last two seasons have shown, and the Cowboys believe he has the work ethic to make sure that consistency remains for years to come.