Why Dan Bailey's signing makes sense

IRVING, Texas -- The reaction when news broke of kicker Dan Bailey's seven-year, $22.5 million deal contract with the Dallas Cowboys was somewhat mixed, which had me surprised.

The Cowboys have won 24 games the last three seasons and Bailey has won a third of them with game-winning field goals. To me, the Cowboys were smart to lock Bailey up to a long-term deal because they play close games and there is a premium on having an accurate kicker.

By the middle of next season, if Bailey holds form, he would be the NFL’s most accurate kicker ever with a minimum of 100 made attempts.

But some of you got caught up in the Cowboys "paying" a kicker, when they have so many other needs. My response would be to re-read the second and third paragraphs and now take a look at the breakdown of his deal.

Bailey received a $4 million signing bonus and $7.5 million is guaranteed on the deal. In what can be considered "new money," Bailey’s $3.4 million average makes him the fifth-highest paid kicker in the game. When viewed as a seven-year deal it puts him inside the top 10.

Bailey will receive base salaries of $900,000, $1.7 million (2015), $2.5 million (2016), $3.2 million (2017) and $3.4 million (2018-2020). His cap number in 2014 is $1.7 million, which is roughly $500,000 lower than what he would have counted if the Cowboys just gave him the $2.124 million second-round tender as a restricted free agent. His cap number in 2015 is $2.5 million, which is less than what the franchise tag would have been had he hit unrestricted free agency.

His cap number tops out at $4.2 million in 2018. Considering the kickers coming up behind him, like Justin Tucker and Greg Zuerlein, the Cowboys could be staring at a bargain by then. Yes, I realize all of this is predicated on Bailey remaining ultra-clutch and ultra-accurate. There has been no reason to think he won’t.

And there is also age to consider.

Bailey turns 26 on Sunday. Kickers can last a long, long time. Adam Vinatieri is 41. Phil Dawson turned 39 on Thursday. Jay Feely is 37. Matt Bryant is 38. They are all effective kickers.

It is easy to criticize the Cowboys for just about any signing when they are in the middle of such a playoff drought, but criticizing the signing of Bailey is as off as a Mike Vanderjagt field goal circa 2006.