While things are still very uncertain at the kicker position, the Cowboys aren't messing around at punter or long snapper in 2022. They will bring back two of the league's best in Bryan Anger and Jake McQuaide, and Dallas should expect a lot from them given their premium compensation.
After making the Pro Bowl during his first year with the Cowboys, Anger received a new three-year, $9 million contract this offseason. His annual average of $3 million ties him with two others as the third-most expensive punters in the league going into 2022.
McQuaide also re-signed with Dallas last March on another one-year deal. He's also tied for third-highest compensation at the long snapper position, making $1.28 million this year, along with five others.
Of course, compared to what guys are making on offense and defense, these amounts don't sound like a lot. But with Anger and McQuaide both making two-to-three times more than others at their positions, expectations for exceptional performance are reasonable.
Even in these specialist roles, guys playing into their mid-30s are always at risk of suffering a sudden drop-off. Anger turns 34 this October and McQuaide will be 35 in December.
Unfortunately, you don't always know it's happened until it's too late. And the middle of the season is a bad time to try to shift gears at any position, but especially these roles where rhythm and chemistry between players are so vital.
Dallas is banking on these two veterans to bring a stabilizing, reliable presence to their special teams units. Remember, Anger is also the holder for field goals and extra points. This will give Jonathan Garibay, Lirim Hajrullahu, or whoever plays kicker in 2022 an ideal environment for success.
As we've seen at other positions this offseason and in recent years, paying a few extra million isn't something the Cowboys do lightly these days. They could go with Hunter Niswander or some other barely-known punter for a fraction of what they're paying Anger this season, but Dallas sees the value and is willing to pay up.
Hopefully, Bryan Anger and Jake McQuaide will justify those salaries with continued exceptionalism in 2022. The little things count for winning teams; we've seen how just one bad snap or botched punt can completely change a game. These positions matter, and clearly the Cowboys believe that too.