Cutting Dan Bailey raises major question about Cowboys' kicking game

The Dallas Cowboys made 36 roster moves on Saturday, trimming their roster to the NFL-mandated 53 players. Here’s a closer look at the moves:

Most significant move: Since 2011, the Cowboys had comfort in the knowledge that Dan Bailey was their kicker, but they opted to go with Brett Maher, who has never kicked in a regular-season game. Only Justin Tucker at 90.2 percent has been more accurate than Bailey, who has made 88.2 percent of his kicks. There was no indication Bailey was in trouble, although Maher did have a strong camp and connected on a 57-yarder in the final preseason game against the Houston Texans. Bailey has made 11 game winners in his career. Bailey was set to make $3.4 million this year. Maher will make $480,000.

Bonus be damned: In March, the Cowboys gave Deonte Thompson a $1 million signing bonus, but that did not prevent them from cutting him Saturday. Thompson was bothered by an Achilles strain from the start of training camp but began working back into practice in the past two weeks and demonstrated his speed was still intact. The Cowboys kept Noah Brown, a seventh-round pick in 2017, even though he did not practice at all because of a hamstring strain. Thompson’s speed and history with receivers coach Sanjay Lal were viewed as positive signs he would make the roster, but the team opted to go younger and cheaper.

Zeus lives: For now, Rico Gathers is on the roster even after he was arrested and charged with marijuana possession on Friday. Gathers caught 10 passes for 83 yards in the preseason and is a favorite of owner and general manager Jerry Jones. He is still learning the game after a successful basketball career at Baylor, but the Cowboys figure he might be able to help in certain situations, despite his lack of experience, especially in pass protection. He enters the season, however, as the fourth tight end behind Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz.

Cowboys moves: Released: K Dan Bailey, WR Dres Anderson, G Kyle Bosch, T Jake Campos, WR K.D. Cannon, WR Darren Carrington, RB Jordan Chunn, LS Scott Daly, T Matt Diaz, DE Kony Ealy, T Chaz Green, RB Darius Jackson, S Jeron Johnson, LB Tre’von Johnson, S Kam Kelly, LB Joel Lanning, DE Austin Larkin, WR Lance Lenoir, G Damien Mama, WR Mekale McKay, DT Lewis Neal, C Jacob Ohnesorge, CB Donovan Olumba, LB Eric Pinkins, LB Kyle Queiro, DT Caraun Reid, S Dominick Sanders, RB Bo Scarbrough, DE Charles Tapper, CB Duke Thomas, WR Deonte Thompson, DT Jihad Ward, TE David Wells, CB Marquez White; Waived/injured: RB Trey Williams, S Marqueston Huff.