Cowboys Release Veteran Kicker, Crown 2020 Starter

Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy

Getty Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy

Greg Zuerlein has won the kicking competition that never was.

The Dallas Cowboys released veteran Kai Forbath, who ended last season as their primary placekicker, the team announced Saturday, inching closer to the 80-man roster limit.

As far as late-year additions go, Forbath was a revelation for the Cowboys in 2019. Replacing the miserably inconsistent Brett Maher, the NFL journeyman was a perfect 10-for-10 on field-goal attempts, with a long of 50 yards, and 10-for-10 on extra points across three appearances.

Forbath originally joined Dallas on Dec. 9, after Maher blew his 10th FG attempt — more than any professional kicker in a single season within the past four years, according to NFL Research.

Forbath re-upped with the club on March 19, signing a one-year deal. At the time, he was viewed as the favorite to maintain his job for the 2020 campaign.

That changed just eight days later when the Cowboys landed “Big Leg Greg,” the former Rams Pro Bowler who inked a three-year, $7.5 million contract with $2.25 million guaranteed.

Across 119 career games, Zuerlein owns an 82-percent success rate, having made 201 of 245 FG attempts, with a long of 61 yards. He’s 33-of-55 (60 percent) from 50-plus yards, 46-of-60 (76.6) from 40-49 yards, 70-of-77 (90.9) from 30-39 yards, and 48-of-49 (97.9) from 20-29 yards. He’s had just five FGs blocked.

Last season, he went 24-of-33 on FGs, with a long of 58, and 42-of-42 on XPs. But despite a decorated resume that features 2017 Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors, Los Angeles chose not to re-sign Zuerlein, sending him to unrestricted free agency where the Cowboys pounced.

It was serendipitous as ex-Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel now holds the same title in Dallas, hired by new head coach Mike McCarthy earlier this offseason. Fassel’s presence — and likely his recommendation — was a catalyst for Zuerlein’s acquisition. And the nail in his counterpart’s coffin.

Forbath becomes the third player cut by the Cowboys since training camp began July 28. On Wednesday, they waived running back Jordan Chunn and defensive lineman Garrett Marino.

The club has until Aug. 16 to reduce the roster to 80 players. The first padded practice is scheduled to take place the following day.

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2 Cowboys Sitting Out Year

A second Cowboys player has chosen to skip the upcoming season due to the pandemic. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday, the first day of Cowboys camp, that undrafted rookie wide receiver Stephen Guidry is opting out of the 2020 campaign.

Veteran cornerback Maurice Canady also opted out Tuesday, tweeting, “Family first money second #staysafe.”

Guidry, 23, joined Dallas following the conclusion of April’s draft. A JUCO transfer, he was a two-year contributor at Mississippi State, notching 49 receptions for 827 yards and eight touchdowns across 23 appearances.

Canady, 26, signed a one-year, $1.25 million deal with Dallas in March. He appeared in eight games and made two starts for the Jets in 2019, finishing his truncated New York tenure with 25 tackles and two pass breakups.

Players who voluntarily opt out are entitled to a $150,000 stipend while their contracts toll until 2021.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL