You may know this, but the Cowboys recently signed Dan Bailey to a 7 year deal. Worth 22.5 million dollars (7.5 million guaranteed), such a contract seems sort of ridiculous considering the team’s current cap situation. After all, the team is 20 million dollars over the cap yet can find Marcus Spears money to sign a kicker… who was only a restricted free agent anyway. (Granted, the Spears deal was over 4 years and this is over 7, but still).
But this deal still highlights the long-term issues the Cowboys’ cap-mismanaged has caused. Though I have no inside knowledge of the logic behind giving a kicker a 7 year deal, it is fair to assume it would have to do with cap issue since the average cap hit can be spread out over multiple years.
Which really isn’t an issue if Bailey is consistent. Currently, he’s been excellent and will hopefully remain so. But kickers falling apart isn’t unheard of. Remember Nick Folk, or for that matter Mike Vanderjagt? The position is a mentally stressful one, and though, should he survive the length of the contract, the deal will probably work out well, one mental breakdown and the Cowboys have a very (for a kicker) expensive mistake.
Luckily, the limited scope of the contract (relative to typical NFL deals) means that the “expensive” issue will be somewhat muted compared to, say, the Marion Barber fiasco. Still, the potential for rapid decline is probably the reason that no kicker, not even Matt Prater, is signed past 2018. The Cowboys current cap situation likely forced them to take an excessively long contract in order to afford a talented player, a concern I have raised in numerous articles, and I fear this contract could foreshadow many equally bad ones as the Cowboys flail desperately to contend.
If Bailey stays in his current condition, this contract will be a win. Bailey is arguably a top five kicker in the league, and this contract pays him an average annual value that is only eighth, which will likely fall as the cap slowly grows and contracts grow with it. But the 7 years of it could cause it to be damaging should Bailey start having issues.