FRISCO, Texas – With the NFL Draft now a week away, the focus is definitely on the next crop of rookies that will join the team.
The Cowboys have seen several changes on the roster with free agency, so let's look back at each position, with a free-agent recap, and look ahead to see if there's more left to do.
Today, we'll continue with the special teams.
- The biggest news of the offseason regarding special teams was the removal of kicker Greg Zuerlein back in March. The Cowboys made that decision before the start of free agency but the idea was to try and bring him back at a cheaper price. But that didn't happen as Zuerlein ended up signing a deal with the Jets. In his two seasons in Dallas, Zuerlein had his shares of ups and downs, including five game-winning or game-tying field goals in the final seconds. He did lead the NFL in missed extra points last season with six.
- With Zuerlein no longer on the team, the only kicker on the roster is Chris Naggar, who has made just one field goal in his career, playing briefly in Cleveland. Naggar was a standout kicker for nearby SMU in Dallas.
- The Cowboys were fortunate to get Pro Bowl punter Bryan Anger back on the team. After a few quiet weeks in free agency where it seemed Anger might find another team, he signed a three-year deal to remain in Dallas. Anger became the Cowboys first Pro Bowl punter since Mat McBriar in 2006 and just the third overall in franchise history.
- All three of the main specialists were involved in the transactions as the Cowboys also re-signed veteran deep snapper Jake McQuaide for a second season.
The next big move for the Cowboys on special teams has to involve a kicker. Right now, they don't have an experienced leg on the roster, and they might not ever get one, if they choose to draft a kicker in the NFL Draft next week.
But what else needs to be addressed? While it seems as if punter, deep snapper and kickoff returner (Tony Pollard) should be in place for 2022, the same can't be said for punt returner. The Cowboys do return CeeDee Lamb, but now that he's likely the No. 1 wide receiver on this roster, it would seem as if the Cowboys might look to another option. Now, last year's backup plan was Cedrick Wilson, who signed with the Dolphins in free agency.
There could be other options on this roster but don't be surprised if the Cowboys' drafted receiver has some punt return experience in college.
Feeling A Draft?
It's been 13 years since the Cowboys drafted a kicker, and even then, David Buehler was considered more of an athlete and kickoff specialist. He did handle the field goal duties for one season in 2010 but moved on to Dan Bailey the next year.
The Cowboys haven't made a history out of drafting kickers, but maybe that changes this year, especially with four fifth-round picks and another in the sixth round.
There are some quality kickers to choose from, including LSU's Cade York, Texas place-kicker Cameron Dicker and Wake Forest's Nick Sciba. Other kickers who could find themselves drafted are Andrew Mevis from Iowa State and Oklahoma's Gabe Brkic.
The Cowboys have drafted just eight kickers in franchise history but only four – Buehler, Nick Folk, Harold Deters and Max Zendejas ever kicked in a regular-season game for the team.