In a week that sees the Dallas Cowboys working to bounce back from a nauseating performance against the Denver Broncos, they'll have to also work to figure out their situation at kicker. Two days after suffering a 30-16 loss to the Broncos at AT&T Stadium, they were forced to move Greg Zuerlein to the COVID/Reserve list, putting extreme doubt on his ability to be available for the Week 10 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. This is a developing story, but if Zuerlein tested positive for COVID-19, his vaccination status will play a large part in how the situation plays out.
In the meantime, the Cowboys will look to add a kicker to the roster, sources tell CBS Sports -- in preparation to not have Zuerlein this weekend. The frontrunner to potentially replace Zuerlein, sources affirm, is Lirim Hajrullahu, a familiar face to the Cowboys. Hajrullahu was signed in August to finish the preseason as Zuerlein worked his way back from a back injury but released in final roster cuts, then re-signed following a poor Week 1 outing by Zuerlein against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A strong showing in Week 2 by Zuerlein led to Hajrullahu being released a second time, but he is currently still a free agent and someone the Cowboys believe can step in and get the job done. They'll also look into other options in free agency, so it's not a foregone conclusion they'll land on Hajrullahu, although it is the likely outcome -- when also considering they don't have a lot of time to figure this all out.
The Cowboys begin practicing on Wednesday for the Falcons.
Another option for the Cowboys would be to bring back Kai Forbath, who was literally perfect in his short time with the Cowboys in 2019. He was re-signed in the offseason to follow but sent on his way months later as special teams coordinator John "Bones" Fassel convinced the Cowboys to sign Zuerlein to a three-year deal -- his kicker from their time together with the Los Angeles Rams. There is also Brett Maher, who ultimately lost his job to Forbath, having served as Cowboys kicker in 2018 through his time ending in December 2019. Maher holds the franchise record for longest kick (62 yards) but began to struggle with shorter distances on his way out.
As mentioned, Zuerlein improved mightily following his Week 1 whiffs that helped cost the Cowboys a win in Tampa, going on to hit on 100 percent of his extra point attempts in five of the six weeks to follow after missing on one in Week 1, although he'd miss one again in Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Having made only three of his five field goal attempts in the opener (60%), Zuerlein didn't miss any until Week 6 against the New York Giants, going on to miss two combined over the next two games. He wasn't asked to attempt any field goals or PATs in the loss to the Broncos, and is now likely sidelined against the Falcons.
If Zuerlein is unvaccinated, he'll be required to quarantine for 10 days. If vaccinated, he can return once he's symptom-free (it is currently not known if he has symptoms and/or how severe they might be) along with producing two negative tests within a 24-hour period.