The Dallas Cowboys are supposedly cash-strapped this year, with OvertheCap.com projecting them to be nearly $22 million over the 2014 NFL salary cap, but that's not stopping them from signing one of their own players to a lucrative long-term deal. The Cowboys signed kicker Dan Bailey to a seven-year contract extension that will keep him with the team through 2020 and pay him approximately $3.3 million per season, according to DallasCowboys.com's Nick Eatman.
That will make Bailey the fifth-highest paid kicker in the NFL, per the press release.
Bailey was set to be a restricted free agent this season, and the team clearly had no interest in a lengthy holdout or the risk of losing the accurate and strong-legged young player. The length of the deal also suggests that Dallas may be able to spread the money out and lower its cap hit in 2014 for Bailey, compared to what it would have been on just a one-year deal for the Cowboys.
Just shy of his 26th birthday, Bailey connected on 28 of his 30 field goal attempts last season, including 6-of-7 from 50 yards or more. He is now 11-of-16 beyond 50 yards in his three-year NFL career.
It seems as though Dallas has long searched for a franchise kicker it can rely on, without much success. The team drafted kicker Nick Folk in the sixth round of the 2007 draft, and he made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, but was released two years later after a poor season. The Cowboys then drafted David Buehler in the fifth round of the 2009 draft, but released him after two seasons. That's when they found Bailey.
Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011, Bailey set a franchise rookie record for field goals made in a season (32), including 26 straight at one point. He has now connected on 89-of-98 career field goal attempts, and he finished 2013 as the fourth-most accurate kicker in the NFL last season.
The four highest-paid kickers, per OverTheCap:
|Name||Team||Average per season||Signed thru|
The report doesn't give the exact details of Bailey's contract in terms of overall value, only noting that Bailey is the fifth-highest paid. Rob Bironas of the Titans has an annual average value of 3.33 million, while Connor Barth of the Buccaneers makes 3.3 million per year, exactly.