A week after initial reports, it appears as if the Dallas Cowboys are handling the final steps for an important free agency move.
It’s been a quiet offseason for Dallas in free agency, with the team adding a couple new names like WR James Washington and DE Dante Fowler Jr., but going the majority of May and June with no signings.
That was until July 1, when it was reported that Dallas was signing kicker Lirim Hajrullahu. A week later, no deal has been officially announced, but Dallas Morning News reporter Michael Gehlken says the signing is imminent.
“Kicker Lirim Hajrullahu arrived in Dallas today,” Gehlken Tweeted on July 8. “His signing is expected to become officially processed as early as Friday. Cowboys set for summer competition between Hajrullahu and undrafted rookie Jonathan Garibay.”
Garibay had been the only kicker on the roster for the better part of two months, which was surprising. However, the Cowboys were expected to sign some form of competition for the rookie out of Texas Tech, and now Dallas has that by bringing back Hajrullahu after his short stint last season.
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Round 2 for Hajrullahu
The European country of Kosovo doesn’t have a rich NFL history, but Hajrullahu has forever connected his home country to the NFL by making it as a professional kicker. After impressing in the CFL for over half a decade, Hajrullahu is now chasing the NFL dream.
While Hajrullahu has signed for four different teams over the past few years, the 32-year-old kicker didn’t get his first regular-season opportunities until 2021 with the Cowboys and Carolina Panthers.
Dallas initially brought in the kicker after injuries to Greg Zuerlein and Hunter Niswander, but he was cut and then re-signed before he made his actual NFL debut in Week 10.
Hajrullahu had a fairly straightforward evening as the team didn’t attempt a field goal, but kicked five extra-point attempts in a 43-3 rout of the Atlanta Falcons. The 32-year-old was a perfect five-for-five on his kicks.
He would later make his first field goal with the Panthers, but they didn’t view him as their long-term option. Now, Hajrullahu has a chance to stake his claim as a starting kicker in the NFL.
Cowboys Set for Starting Job Battle
Hajrullahu has an amazing opportunity, but he will have to beat out Garibay to seize the chance. Garibay also has something to prove as a rookie, and his track record at Texas Tech was impressive.
While not a FBS leader in attempted or made kicks, Garibay showed in 2021 that he is not bothered in high-pressure situations and that he’s nearly automatic. Per Texas Tech’s official website, Garibay knocked down 49-of-50 PATs and made 15 of 16 field goal tries.
Specifically, Garibay won games for the Red Raiders with game-winning field goals against Iowa State and West Virginia. His 62-yard game-winner against Iowa State was the second-longest field goal in Big 12 history, while also being the longest go-ahead field-goal ever with a minute left.
Hajrullahu has won a Grey Cup in Canada, Garibay has kicked in front of intense college football crowds. Their backgrounds are very different, but set up for a fantastic position battle in camp.