The Dallas Cowboys are riding high coming off a great 2020 NFL Draft and strong offseason work thus far. One surprising decision, though, has been the lack of any changes or additions at punter. Despite a down year in 2019 and some intriguing options available, Chris Jones is remains unchallenged and even just received a vote of confidence from the Cowboys’ front office.
Jones has been with Dallas for nine seasons and the full-time punter since 2012. While never a Pro Bowler, Chris has been one of the league’s best at aiming punts for the sideline and minimizing opponents’ return options. He’s also served as the holder on field goals.
Last season was a bad one for the veteran punter. Like the rest of the Cowboys’ special teams under Keith O’Quinn, Jones’ performance took a hit the last two years. He wasn’t getting the same distance on his kicks and his placement wasn’t as good.
However, Chris Jones’ issues may have been temporary. According to one source, Jones was battling a back and groin injury throughout 2019.
Along with improved health in 2020, Chris should also benefit from a change at Special Teams Coordinator. Part of the sweeping change in Dallas’ coaching staff this year is the arrival of special teams guru John Fassel.
As of a report yesterday, Fassel is apparently satisfied with Chris Jones as his punter next season.
Cowboys have yet to add a punter to compete with Chris Jones. While one could come, VP of player personnel Will McClay said John Fassel feels "really good" about current situation with Jones.
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) April 28, 2020
This vote of confidence comes after speculation that Dallas might use one of their late-round draft picks on a punter. More than a few were pining for Braden Mann from Texas A&M, and perhaps the Cowboys would’ve taken him in the 7th Round if he was still on the board.
Before the draft, former NFL and XFL standout Marquette King was being discussed as an option for a punting upgrade. He was one of the league’s best punters from 2012-2017, but personality clashes led to his release in Oakland and then an injury ended his 2018 season.
King resurfaced earlier this year in the XFL and was back to his elite ways. Now that Vince McMahon’s league has folded, Marquette should be in some NFL team’s training camp in 2020.
Another interesting option became available just yesterday.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 28, 2020
Colquitt turns 38 next week but remains one of the top punters in the NFL. Kansas City, desperate for salary cap space right now, released him to clear $2 million.
For the Cowboys and Chris Jones the salary cap number isn’t an issue. He only counts $2.4 million, which is middle of the road for punters, and Dallas would only save $1.4 million of that if he’s released.
If Dallas does look for a new punter for 2020 then it will be about improving on the field.
Of course, bringing in a player like Colquitt or King doesn’t mean the end for Jones. A true competition can’t hurt anything, and would mirror the situation at kicker right.
Will the Cowboys also bring in a challenger for Chris Jones’ spot at punter? Or do they believe that improved health, and the addition of John Fassel, will get the veteran back to his previous form?
Just more questions to be answered as Dallas’ 2020 offseason continues.