Free agency and the salary cap figures to rob the Dallas Cowboys of some of their talent this offseason. But as it regards Dan Bailey, all parties involved tell Fox Sports Southwest that the NFL system, a Valley Ranch philosophical change and the talents of the standout kicker figure to allow him to carry on as one of the team’s most consistent performers.
Sources say the parties are in contact and are "on the same page" regarding Bailey’s return to the Cowboys.
Bailey, 25, is set to be restricted free agent. The Cowboys can issue him a first-round tender (guaranteeing Bailey a salary of about $3 million) or a second-round tender (at about $2 million). Then the kicker can shop himself around the NFL â but Dallas can match any offer made to Bailey.
And the Cowboys will almost certainly to do so, a shift in philosophy from years and years of believing kickers are easily replaced.
Meanwhile, a source says Dallas would, in combination with the tender, work to sign Bailey to a long-term deal. Top kickers in the NFL make $3 million or so, and the framework for a deal has been set by Chicago’s extension on Robbie Gould (four years, $15 million, with $9 million guaranteed). If the Cowboys tender Bailey at $2 million, they would likely try to negotiate a contract with annual salaries that start at that relatively low level.
All of that — and the fact that any team stealing away Bailey would owe Dallas the pick equivalent to the tender (either a first- or second-rounder) — there really isn’t much free-agency "danger" or decision-making to do here (as there is with defensive linemen Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer, both unrestricted free agents).
This year, Bailey was 28-of-30 on field goals. He’s gone 89-of-98 since coming into the NFL three years ago as an undrafted free agent.
"It’s been a great first three years here and I think it’s a great place to kick," Bailey told reporters at season’s end. "It’s obviously a first-class organization, so I can’t really see any negatives to playing here. So yeah, I’d love to stay here if I could. We’ll just kind of see what happens. Hopefully I’ll be able to stick around a little longer."