Cowboys surprisingly cut franchise-best kicker Dan Bailey

It's not often kicker transactions qualify as important news on the same day players like Khalil Mack get moved, but it's not often a kicker like Dan Bailey gets released. On Saturday, as the league trimmed their rosters to 53 playersthe Cowboys made a surprising move to cut Bailey, who joined the Cowboys in 2011 and went on to become the best kicker in franchise history. 

They'll replace him with Brett Maher, who has also been with the Jets and Browns during his career, but has never kicked in a regular-season NFL game. He did drill a 57-yard field goal in the team's preseason finale, which could've conceivably factored into the Cowboys' decision to hand him their starting job.  

Bailey, on the other hand, has converted 88.2 percent of his field goals in his career for a grand total of 186 field goals. In Cowboys' franchise history, he ranks first in made field goals, first in field goal percentage, second in made extra points, and third in total points scored. 

He is, however, coming off his worst season as a pro (15 of 20 on field goals), which might be why the Cowboys decided to move on from him. It's probably also as much about Bailey's contract, which ran through the 2020 season, as it was about his recent struggles. According to Over The Cap, Bailey was set to earn $4.2 million in 2018. By cutting him, the Cowboys saved $3.4 million. 

Still, trying to save money by cutting a reliable kicker can be costly. Just ask the Chicago Bears, who once cut franchise legend Robbie Gould and then went on to get tormented by his replacements (and by Gould himself). Nobody truly appreciates kickers until they have one who can't be counted on to make field goals.

On a much broader level, it's bizarre to look at a Cowboys roster that doesn't include Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, and Bailey. The times they are a changin' in Dallas, it's just not clear if they're changing for the better.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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