The Dallas Cowboys' 53 man roster is complete after making a handful of surprising moves. While there were many shocking decisions, such as keeping Rico Gathers despite the fact that he was arrested the night before, none was more unexpected and unbelievable as the release of longtime Kicker Dan Bailey.
In the shock of the moment, Cowboys Nation's reaction was disbelief. How could it not be? The cut came minutes before the deadline and I highly doubt anyone had even thought about it. Even with Brett Maher taking on just about every preseason kicking duties, no one saw it as an open competition for the Cowboys' starting kicker spot. It wasn't even on the table for a fan base that for years has loved and appreciated Dan Bailey so much throughout his career.
Right now, it's very hard to see the logic behind this roster move because it doesn't make sense with the information that is at hand for all of us. According to NFL Network reporter, Tom Pelissero, tweeted out that Bailey was healthy. It definitely wasn't about age, considering Maher is only two years younger. So if it wasn't his recent injury history and it wasn't about age, then what was it?
We probably won't know until something actually happens. I highly doubt the Cowboys will move on from this without making something – whatever it is – happen.
By releasing Dan Bailey, the Cowboys free $3.5M in cap space this year and will save over $10M throughout the next three seasons. On the other hand, Brett Maher will cost the Cowboys only $480,000 in 2018.
As a financial decision, it starts making sense. Especially when you consider that, based on stats, Bailey's production was declining over the past three years. However, even if the team will have to pay considerable less money to their new starting kicker, the cut will likely lack of any logic unless the team actually uses any of that cap space.
The elephant in the room is Seattle Seahawk Earl Thomas, who's been in our minds ever since December. Before releasing Bailey, the Cowboys already had enough cap space to extend Thomas had they decided to trade for him, but adding an extra 3.5 million can do nothing but help the cause, right? Especially when you have the opportunity to front-load the first year in the extension. The Cowboys will have over $19M, according to Over The Cap and they shouldn't be afraid to use it.
But Thomas isn't the only player we should be discussing here. There are plenty of moves this front office might be looking at. The team has only four cornerbacks on the roster right now and limited depth along the offensive line. There may be some guys, such as G Jonathan Cooper, that the team may be looking to acquire.
As unbelievable as it is to know Bailey won't be wearing the Star on Sundays anymore, this should have happened for a reason. We may have to wait to figure out just what caused this unexpected decision, but there must be something. Judging by coaches' comments and from what we heard on training camp, this isn't performance related. Bailey wasn't perfect, but there wasn't any reason for concern during camp about his kicking capabilities.
You just don't get rid of Dan Bailey for nothing. You don't give a player like Rico Gathers or Daniel Ross a roster spot over Bailey if there isn't a specific reason to do so. Hopefully, we find out what that reason is as soon as possible. As for now, it's too early to judge the Cowboys' decision to release their longtime kicker. Let's give them a chance to show us what their plan is.