More Than Kicking Tires

another veteran out there, since the Dolphins have intimated to Olindo Mare his $1.4 million base for 2006 needs to be reduced, and he seems to be flipping them off over the notion. 

Vinatieri is the best. Did you know in the final minutes of games during his career, he's gone 19-for-20 on game winners? But he's also going to be the most expensive, and there is a feeling out there he's only flirting with other teams to set market value for the Patriots to match in the end. We'll see. 

Vanderjagt is the NFL's career percentage leader, but if you've been paying attention, he might even flip off your All-Pro quarterback. Plus, you sign Vanderjagt, then you must also sign a kick-off guy. Could you imagine paying like $2 million a year for a kicker and then need another one to do the other half of the job? His agent, Gil Scott, has made contact with the Cowboys, Miami and Green Bay. 

Now then, Mare might become available, and while the Dolphins think he's costing them too much, that's relative, especially around here when you figure a couple of made field goals last year would have placed the Cowboys in the playoffs. Hey, $1.4 million? I'll give the guy that in a bonus and a $1 million in base for 2006. Happily. The guy made 25-of-30 last year. That's 83 percent. And get this: He was six-of-six from 40-49 and one-of-two from 50 (53). So what he's going to be 33 in June? Young for a kicker. 

Sing along: Oh-Mar-eh. 

But wait. There is another option, and I sort of really like this idea, and you can bet the Cowboys have thought - are thinking - about it: Sign Seattle restricted free agent Josh Brown to an offer sheet. Sure, you remember Josh Brown. He's the dude who hit from 55 in the rain in the final seconds of the first half against the Cowboys to finally get the Seahawks on the board and then from a mere 50 as time ran out to send the Cowboys home with that painful 13-10 loss. 

That guy. 

Brown fits right in to what appears to be the Cowboys' free-agency philosophy of finding mid-range guys in their mid- to upper-20's who are possibly on the brink of coming into their own. That's Akin Ayodele. That's what they hope is Kyle Kosier. That's why they are bringing in Seattle tight end Ryan Hannam, all of 26, but maybe also because he scored the only touchdown for Seattle against the Cowboys in that game. 

First, Brown is only a three-year veteran. He turns 27 on Draft Day. And get this: As a seventh-round draft choice, he's made very little money, probably getting no more than like $50,000 in signing bonus and has been paid the minimum's these past three seasons, including just $380,000 this past season for the NFC champs. 

And . . and . . . on top of all that, Seattle only issued him the right-of-first-refusal restricted free agency minimum tender, meaning all of $712,000. Kidding me? This kid from Foyil, Okla., by the way, for a young kicker, would seem to be ahead of the curve. He went 22-of-30 as a rookie, then 23-for-25 the next year and 18-of-25 this past season. But understand, he made five of eight attempts from at least 50, which speaks to his leg strength if Mike Holmgren had enough confidence in him to even attempt eight 50-yarders in one season and 12 during his short career. 

Hand him a $2 million signing bonus over like three years. Minimum bases with incentives. He'd about triple what he is scheduled to make this year in Seattle, and more than double what's he's totaled over three seasons. Come on, you think there is a bank in Foyil, Okla., with room for $2 million? 

Now there's a catch, but this might be in the Cowboys' favor, too. The Seahawks have seven days to match any offer sheet Brown might sign. But since they just paid big bucks to re-sign Shaun Alexander, are getting ready to pay big bucks to match the transition offer sheet signed by guard Steve Hutchinson, just re-signed defensive tackle Rocky Bernard and are set to entertain such free agents as John Abraham and Lawyer Milloy, at some point, the salary cap is going to shrivel up tighter than shrink wrap. 

Now also, guarantee you, me and the Cowboys aren't the only ones looking for a kicker who have probably considered this option. Especially since all you'd have to give Seattle in return if the

MICK SHOTS

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