Cowboys Signing Familiar Free Agent to Compete for Starting Job: Report

Mike McCarthy

Getty Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Dallas Cowboys looks on during a game.

After months of speculation and chatter, the Dallas Cowboys are finally creating competition at a key position this offseason.

Since the team released Chris Naggar back on May 13, the only kicker on the roster has been undrafted free agent Jonathan Garibay. It always felt as if Dallas would add a competitor for Garibay before training camp, and they now have that in a familiar face: Lirim Hajrullahu.

According to NFL media insider Tom Pelissero, the Cowboys are bringing Hajrullahu back onto the roster. The 32-year-old kicker played for three different teams last season including Dallas, and it now appears he’s getting his next NFL chance with the Cowboys.

“The #Cowboys are re-signing kicker Lirim Hajrullahu, source said,” Pelissero Tweeted on July 1. “They now have two kickers on the roster: undrafted rookie Jonathan Garibay and Hajrullahu, the former CFL all-star who made his NFL debut for Dallas last season and also kicked for Carolina.”

The dynamic between Hajrullahu and Garibay is an interesting one: Hajrullahu has kicked professionally since 2014, while Garibay is entering his first NFL season after a breakout career at Texas Tech. Now, the two will face off over this summer and early fall for the starting job in Dallas.

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Hajrullahu’s CFL Background

Cowboys fans were first introduced to Hajrullahu when he was signed as a replacement for kicker Hunter Niswander, who was standing in for a then-injured Greg Zuerlein. However, his steps to getting to the NFL are as impressive as any.

Hajrullahu was born in Gijilan, Kosovo and migrated with his family at a young age to Canada. In high school, he joined his football team and began kicking. He eventually ended up in Western University in Ontario, kicking at the Canadian college level before getting started in the CFL.

According to the CFL’s official website, Hajrullahu played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Toronto Argonauts and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, with his most prominent work occurring in Toronto and Hamilton. He won the 2017 Grey Cup with the Argonauts, and earned All-Star honors in 2016 and 2019.

Cowboys Give Hajrullahu His NFL Debut

His performances got him a contract with the Los Angeles Rams in 2020, but he did not win the starting job and was cut. He also signed with the Carolina Panthers that year, but was also released without making an appearance.

Hajrullahu finally got his NFL debut in Dallas in 2021. After being signed, put on the practice squad and released, the Cowboys signed him as an emergency kicker in their 43-3 win over the Atlanta Falcons. According to PFR, the 32-year-old made five extra points on five tries, and did not attempt any other field goals.

With Zuerlein coming back, Hajrullahu’s time was always going to be short, and that led to him signing with the Washington Commanders and then the Panthers. With Carolina, Hajrullahu went three-for-three on extra point attempts and four-for-five on field goal attempts.

Now that Zuerlein is with the New York Jets and Garibay as his only competition, Hajrullahu is in prime position to nail down a starting job in the NFL with Dallas.

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