With their starting kicker on the PUP list and the backup now dealing with a medical issue, the Cowboys are bringing in 31-year old Lirim Hajrullahu to help get them through the preseason. Though he's never played in an NFL game, Hajrullahu was a standout kicker and punter from 2014-2019 in the Canadian Football League.
Greg Zuerlein has yet to participate in camp or preseason action due to back issues. However, Dallas expects to have Zuerlein ready for Week One. According to DallasCowboys.com, Zuerlein and veteran Bryan Anger should handle kicking and punting duties when they meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With Zuerlein out, Hunter Niswander has been handling the kicking duties in a temporary role. Niswander was the Cowboys' punter in 2020 and was more than adequate, but it appears Anger has taken that job over for this season.
But with Niswander now reportedly limited due to injury, Dallas is giving Lirim Hajrullahu a chance to show his stuff.
Update: Kicker Lirim Hajrullahu has agreed to terms with the #Cowboys, per source. https://t.co/ZzAV7nSISz
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 18, 2021
Cowboys are signing kicker Lirim Hajrullahu to a two-year contract, source said. He will handle kickoffs and field goals on Saturday vs. Texans in place on Hunter Niswander. K Greg Zuerlein (back, PUP) remains on track for Week 1.
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 18, 2021
Despite failed attempts the last two years to catch on with the Rams and Panthers, Hajrullahu's strong CFL career and versatility have kept him on John Fassel's radar. It's probably no coincidence that Lirim's first stop in the NFL was in Los Angeles; Fassel's NFL home from 2012-2019 as Special Teams Coordinator.
Hajrullahu has a career accuracy of 83.3% on his field goals in the CFL with a long of 56 yards. He won multiple awards during his Canadian career and helped the Toronto Argonauts take the Grey Cup in 2017 with a game-winning field goal.
The Cowboys will need to make a roster move somewhere to make room for Hajrullahu. They could be waiving Hunter Niswander given the circumstances or releasing a player from another position. There are also some injured players that could be moved to IR such as TE Sean McKeon, OT Josh Ball, or LB Francis Bernard.
While adding Lirim is reportedly just a short-term move for the preseason, who knows what Dallas' needs may be come Week One? Greg Zuerlein turns 34 in December and back issues are hard to predict.
Even if his time with the Cowboys could be short, Hajrullahu will hopefully put enough good work in to attract interest elsewhere in the NFL.