Cowboys lock up punter McBriar through 2011

Even though the Dallas Cowboys usually don't like to give big deals to kickers, they made a big exception on Wednesday by reaching an agreement on a five-year, $8.5 million contract with punter Mat McBriar.

Mat McBriar McBriar

McBriar, scheduled to become a restricted free agent, was too good to let go even though the experiment to pay place kicker Mike Vanderjagt didn't work out last season. McBriar was the NFC's Pro Bowl punter this season, averaging 48.2 yards per punt with a 38.6 net. He placed 22 kicks inside the 20 yard line and had a long punt of 75 yards.

His deal makes him the league's highest-paid punter. Along with that, he received a $2.5 million signing bonus.

McBriar was recruited to come to America by former Chargers kicker Darren Bennett. A fellow Australian, Bennett talked June Jones into having McBriar kick for him the University of Hawaii. McBriar had stops in Seattle and Denver before settling in at Dallas.

The coaching staff has long considered McBriar a field position weapon. Now, he's a Cowboy through 2011.

John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.