One of the biggest areas of concern for the Cowboys heading into training camp was the kicking position. Dallas opted to roll with just Tristan Vizcaino and Brandon Audrey to begin practice, and it's gone about as poorly as expected.
Neither kicker has excelled, which has only heightened fans' worries ahead of the season. On Monday, however, Dallas took a huge step toward rectifying this problem by cutting Vizcaino.
It turns out, the Cowboys acted at the perfect time.
The 2023 offseason has seen a number of kickers trade places in the league through free agency and even a few trades. With offenses putting up historic numbers in the modern NFL, smart franchises are making sure to solidify their kicking situations and avoid losing games because they're tied to a shaky leg.
Following all this movement, Dallas could've been in a terrible spot after Vizcaino didn't work out. Instead, cutting ties this early is a blessing in disguise. Now the Cowboys have first dibs on the remaining free agents, and there's still several veterans available who can help.
Perhaps the most obvious choice for the 'Boys to bring in is Mason Crosby. He was McCarthy's sole kicker throughout his 13-year in Green Bay, which included the pair winning a Super Bowl together during the 2011 season.
McCarthy has a better understanding of Crosby's talent than anyone else in the league considering their history. He's benefited from big kicks that Crosby's made, and he's been burned just as much (if not more) by the misses, too.
It remains to be seen if McCarthy taps into his Packers pipeline once again, though. The Cowboys' head coach is building a different team (albeit with the same championship goal) in Dallas, and leaning into familiarity just for the sake of it would be coaching malpractice.
Crosby's age and decline could cause the Cowboys to go in a different direction. The good news is the kicking free agent market goes beyond him, with vets Robbie Gould and Ryan Succop both presenting attractive alternatives.
Gould was once a First Team All-Pro for the Bears, spending 11 seasons in the NFC North and kicking against McCarthy countless times. Most recently, he played the last six years with the 49ers. He's remained productive in his mid-30s and beyond, leading the leagues in field goal makes in 2017 and posting an NFL-best 97.1 field goal percentage in 2018.
Succop, meanwhile, has had lengthy starting stints with three different teams (Chiefs, Titans and Buccaneers), which shows his respect around the league. He's coming off of a very busy three years in Tampa Bay, where he logged at least 30 FG attempts every season. His 84.8 field goal percentage as a Buc was actually the best mark of his career with any team, so the 36-year-old still has plenty left in the tank.
In either Gould or Succop, the Cowboys would get a kicker who knows what it's like to kick for a Super Bowl contender. Both players have suited up in the Big Game recently, with Succop even earning a ring during the 2020 season. That kind of experience is invaluable to a Dallas team looking to get over the hump.
So yes, the Cowboys messed up with their approach at kicker to begin the preseason. But they've got several solutions on the market who can help them realize their Super Bowl potential. Dallas now has the pick of the litter by making this decision early, and they'd be smart to act before other teams pivot as well.
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