Dallas Cowboys

Jason Garrett answers all those questions about kicker Dan Bailey and his replacement

Place-kicker Brett Maher, center, impressed the Cowboys enough in preseason that they decided to keep him and waive veteran Dan Bailey, left, the NFL’s second all-time most accurate kicker.
Place-kicker Brett Maher, center, impressed the Cowboys enough in preseason that they decided to keep him and waive veteran Dan Bailey, left, the NFL’s second all-time most accurate kicker. Star-Telegram

This wasn’t an easy decision.

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said that in various forms at least a half a dozen times during his Monday afternoon press conference.

He was speaking of the Cowboys’ 53-man roster and the personnel cuts that were necessary, specifically kicker Dan Bailey.

The move caught most of the football world by surprise. The Cowboys are depending on rookie Brett Maher from the Canadian Football League. And they got rid of the league’s second all-time most accurate kicker.

Everyone has questions and Garrett spent much of his press conference time explaining the controversial move. Here’s an edited version of what he said:

What was the rationale behind cutting Dan Bailey? Obviously, a lot of factors go into this kind of a decision. It was one we talked about a lot. There is a business side to the game as well. That is certainly a factor in making a decision like this. But really, honestly, there is a business side to making a lot of decisions we make in the era of the salary cap. You have to allocate dollars to certain guys and you have to decide where you can maybe save some money and save some salary cap space. I can’t say enough about Dan Bailey as a person, as a kicker, what he’s done for this organization, the number of pressure kicks he made for us. He and I had a good visit the other day, talked the whole thing through, we wish him nothing but the best going forward. He’s been a great player for us and will continue to be a great player in this league.

How much was this mainly about finances? Again, there are a lot of factors that go into all of these decisions. You’re evaluating the players’ performance and you’re also evaluating how you’re putting the entire roster together. There are a lot of different factors that went into this.

How much was it about performance? I think the biggest thing you would look at is he’s had some injuries over the last couple of years, had a back injury two years ago, had the groin [injury] last year. Obviously, he didn’t kick his best down the stretch last year, there are a lot of different reasons for that. When we put the whole thing together and decided what was the best for our football team, this is the decision we felt we had to make. It was a hard decision. There is no question about that. We went back and forth on it, we discussed it a great deal. One of the things that gave us confidence was how well Brett Maher has kicked both in practice and in games. We feel like he has an opportunity to help our football team in that role.

What most impressed you about Maher? He comes in, gets his work done, really good practice habits, kicked the ball really well, every day, virtually every time he kicked it all throughout training camp. Certainly he has an ability to help us in a lot of different ways. Very good kickoff guy, he punted throughout training camp, handled all that work really well. He’s a very talented guy. He’s got a strong leg. We saw that with the 57-yarder the other day in the game [in Houston]. So he has all the physical traits you’d want. His approach every day was very professional and we put all that together and gave us confidence enough to make this decision. We recognize he has not made a kick in the National Football League. We understand that. We understand what Dan Bailey has done in the NFL so that makes the decision that much more difficult. Again we talked about it, went back and forth on it, we challenged each other on it and ultimately this is the decision we made for our team.

Were you on board with this decision? Yeah, we’re on board with all the decisions. We make organizational decisions. A lot of tough decisions we had to make to go from 90 to 53 and decide which guys are going to come back to the practice squad. We’ll sit in a room and we’ll talk about it. We talk about it every day. Talk about how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together and all the different factors that go into the decisions and we work through it. We work through it in a very collaborative fashion.

How did his CFL history factor in the decision? At the outset when we signed him those were certainly factors that we liked about him. We knew of him coming out of school. We have some guys on our staff who were around him coming out of [Nebraska]. He was a very good kicker at Nebraska and had success in the Canadian Football League. He was here in training camp with us in 2013 so he had a little bit of history with us. He did a really good job from Day 1. We recognize this decision and what we’re doing but when we put it all together we felt like this was the right thing for our team right now.

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