Right now Greg Zuerlein has no competition for the job of Dallas Cowboys’ kicker.in 2021. But even if that doesn’t change when Dallas goes to training camp, Zuerlein can’t afford to struggle. He should still the pressure of his contract situation and the fear that the Cowboys could always pull in a free agent if needed.
Last year when John Fassel became the new Special Teams Coordinator for Dallas, he brought the veteran Zuerlein over as our new kicker after their time together with the Rams. Even though the Cowboys still Kai Forbath in house, Zuerlein was handed the job and didn’t even have to compete against Forbath after Dallas released Kai before the start of 2020 camp.
The circumstances of that offseason were different with reduced roster sizes and practice opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But even now that we’re getting back to the normal offseason flow in 2021, Dallas still hasn’t any other kickers to the roster to contend against Zuerlein.
While this sounds like a great situation for Greg on the surface, the Cowboys could quickly change course if the 33-year-old shows any decline or other cause for concern. And given the current state of his contract, Dallas could be quickly motivated to find a cheaper option.
Zuerlein counts $2.8 million against the Cowboys’ 2021 salary cap. If he were to be released sometime during camp or preseason, it would create $2.5 million in cap savings and only push $33k in dead money onto the 2022 cap.
If they don’t find a use for it this year, Dallas could roll that $2.5 million onto the 2022 cap and help offset some of their major contract commitments.
There are almost always a few decent free agent options at kicker, and especially after teams make their final cuts. We’ve seen this through the last few years as Dallas as brought in journeymen like Forbath or Mike Nugent and see them perform adequately, and even admirably, right off the street.
Rest assured, a longtime special teams guru like John Fassel has a strong list of options. And no matter who they might turn to, that player would likely be had at a major discount compared to what they’re about to pay Zuerlein.
So while there is not true competition currently at kicker for the Cowboys, Greg Zuerlein is still competing against his contract and the expectations that come with it. If he doesn’t perform well in camp or preseason, Dallas shouldn’t wait long to look at other options.