When Dez Bryant was released by the Dallas Cowboys, a calculated move that was processed on a Friday afternoon, I was fortunate enough to have my former radio show "Upon Further Review" to share my immediate thoughts. I don't remember much of what I said, speaking from the heart about a player that meant so much to the organization, but I know for certain I prefaced everything by saying that Bryant's release was something that still needed processing.
It's been a few hours and I'm still shocked by what happened with Dan Bailey. All we can do is speculate but it just never seemed like it was a true competition. Not sure what Bailey did to lose his job. #cowboyswire
In a stunning change of faith at the kicker position, the Cowboys release of Dan Bailey yesterday drew the same reaction from many - Cowboys fans or not. When Cowboys games came down to field goals, with just as many people rooting for America's Team to lose in spectacular fashion as well as triumph, it was so often Bailey's foot that delivered for Dallas.
By aggressively churning their roster, the Cowboys list of players they've let down with missed opportunities in the playoffs has grown, and it's unfortunate that the second most accurate kicker in NFL history must now be added to this list. Officially, Dan Bailey made ten go-ahead field goals in either the fourth quarter of a Cowboys win or in overtime.
His replacement, Brett Maher, has never kicked a field goal in a regular season game in the NFL, despite being on three teams. One of these teams was the Cowboys, as Maher was a member of the squad for the preseason in 2013.
At the time, he was the proverbial "warm body" to kick field goals while Bailey healed from an injury. Ask even the most loyal Nebraska Cornhusker fans (there are plenty of those), and they would have told you Maher was doing much of the same with the Cowboys this time around.
Bailey never will get his chance to fully recover and take back his job with the Cowboys though, as Maher became the team's biggest winner at cut down time on Saturday. For a club that constantly talks about competition and accountability, their move to replace Bailey lacks both, as no public kicking competition was known about in Dallas.
Billy Cundiff and Zane Gonzalez are two NFL kickers that Maher was unable to beat out in stops away from the Cowboys to earn a starting job. Cundiff is now retired, and Gonzalez is still the starter for the Cleveland Browns.
Maher's starts have all been in the CFL, appearing with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Ottawa Redblacks, and Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Maher scored all 18 points for the expansion Redblacks in their first ever win back in 2014, hitting from 23 yards out to win the game.
June 18, 2014.
It took Dan Bailey until the end of 2016 (his sixth year kicking for the Cowboys) to miss as many field goals as Maher did in just two seasons at Nebraska, where he played before entering the NFL and CFL. Maher's 19 of 23 performance on field goals in 2011 earned him conference kicker of the year as a Junior.
He also punted for Nebraska for two seasons.
Maher was 4-5 on field goals this preseason for the Cowboys. His make from 57 yards out in Houston was the last low-pressure kick he'll hit in some time for the team. What seemed like a nice moment for the UDFA to gain some confidence resulted in Maher replacing a former undrafted success story in Bailey.
Welcome to the franchise that gets the most attention on a weekly basis, Mr. Maher. You're the starting kicker for the Dallas Cowboys now.
As mentioned, there's not a single part of this story that seems probable, or even believable at this point still. Reconciling the widespread feelings of disdain towards a Cowboys team that owed Bailey much better - by realizing that Maher is going through the same disbelief - certainly helps.
In one week's time, the Cowboys will be opening their season with a tough NFC match up at the Carolina Panthers. For the first time in years, the team's defense is less of a concern than the offense for this game. A key piece to their scoring ability ever since 2011, Dan Bailey's absence only adds to the uncertainty on this side of the ball, as Brett Maher will be the next man up kicking for the Cowboys.
BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign Free Agent Safety George Iloka
The Dallas Cowboys have reached a one-year agreement with Safety George Iloka, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. Iloka spent 2018 with the Vikings after six years with the Bengals.
He's started 79 of his 99 career games since being a fifth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2012. Iloka turns 29 years old next week.
The Cowboys have agreed to a one-year deal with safety George Iloka, according to a source. Iloka met with the Cowboys on Friday and was the third safety to meet with the club during the week along with Clayton Geathers and Eric Berry. The Cowboys have... https://t.co/JB5nJLWepc
This isn't the safety that most Cowboys fans wanted. After over a year of pining for Earl Thomas, sights turned to Eric Berry after his free agent visit in Dallas last week.
However, it makes sense that Iloka would be attractive to the Cowboys. At 6'4" and 225 lbs, he fits the physical mold of what Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard likes in his players. He also is younger than Berry and Thomas without the same recent injury issues.
Iloka becomes one of many Boise St. products on Dallas' roster, joining Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, and others. He entered the league with college teammates Crawford and Kellen Moore, the Cowboys' new offensive coordinator, in 2012.
We'll have to wait and see how George Iloka fits into the current mix at safety with Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. He spent most of 2018 as a backup with Minnesota, but Dallas will likely give him a chance to start.
BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb
According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.
Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T
The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.
During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.
After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.
This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.
Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!
REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur
L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.
Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.
The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e
Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.
Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.
Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.
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