Chris Jones' decade-long run as punter for the Dallas Cowboys had ended. The veteran was released today just as the free agency opened around the NFL, giving the Cowboys some additional salary cap space to work with.
With just one year left on his contract, Jones was scheduled to count $2.5 million against the 2021 cap. With only $500k in dead money left, Dallas gets $2 million in additional salary cap room by releasing him.
The Cowboys have released veteran punter Chris Jones. Hunter Niswander is under contract through the 2021 season. He punted last year for Dallas after Jones was injured. Jones has been with the Cowboys since 2011
Unless the Cowboys add someone new before training camp, Hunter Niswander should walk into the job next season. After joining the team's practice squad in late October, Niswander took over when Jones was placed on injured reserve.
Niswander finished the season among the NFL's Top 10 punters both in yards-per-punt and net average after returns. He was a welcome sight after a few years of watching Jones decline.
Chronic injuries played a large part in Chris Jones' declining performance. He played all of 2019 with a back injury and sport hernia and those issues continued into last year.
In his prime, Jones was surgical with his direction on punts and limiting opponents' return opportunities. He had plenty of leg but technique was how he stuck around for a full decade.
Jones also served many years as the holder on field goals and extra points for Dan Bailey, Brett Maher, Greg Zuerlein, and others.
Another big change occurred om special teams this week as long snapper L.P. Ladouceur was replaced by former Ram Jack McQuaid. Much like adding Zuerlein last year, we're seeing the influence of John Fassel as Dallas turns to some their special teams coordinator's handpicked guys.
Could this mean trouble for Niswander as well? He played well in 2020 but that doesn't mean Fassel won't bring in another of his former players. We saw that when Zuerlein was handed the kicker job over Kai Forbath despite how well Forbath played at the end of 2019.
Niswander or not, Chris Jones won't be the Cowboys punter in 2021. Still just 32 years old, hopefully he can get healthy and find work somewhere else in the league.