BETTER LUCK NEXT YEAR
Dan Bailey – Kicker
Bailey is in a similar predicament as both Romo and Witten. On sheer numbers alone, it would be hard to pass on Bailey. He is currently third in field goal percentage, second in both extra points made and attempted and has only missed one field goal outside of 40 yards (10/11). Another kicker with similar statistics who plays for a better team is Stephen Hauschka. Hauschka is first in percentage and second in field goals made. He has also only missed one kick outside of 40 yards but his team is currently 10-1. Since it’s very close between the two, it’s almost a given the record will be a deciding factor so barring a case of the shanks, it does not look promising for Bailey.
Sean Lee – Linebacker
On one hand, it is without debate that Sean Lee is one of the best defensive players, let alone linebackers in the entire league. Unfortunately, he has a difficult time staying on the field. He also is hampered by the fact that he plays on the worst defense in football. Then you get to the part that the position Lee plays is one that is extremely deep and it starts looking bleak. You have great players who may not be having typical years but are a “name” such as Patrick Willis or Clay Matthews. You have great players who are having great years such as Luke Kuechly or Navarro Bowman. You also have good players who are having exceptional years such as DeAndre Levy and Karlos Dansby. That’s six guys for three spots, not counting Lee. All these factors point in leaving Lee on the mainland this winter.
Brandon Carr – Cornerback
Carr is in the same boat as Witten and Lee. He is definitely a good player but he is going to be without a chair when the music stops. This is either due to limited spots at his position (typically no more than four) and the whole atrociousness of the defense thing. Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson are locks for two spots meaning Carr has to compete with Tramaine Brock, Brandon Boykin, DeAngelo Hall and Sam Shields who are all having really good years. Throw in your “names” like Darrelle Revis and Charles Tillman and it may all be too much to overcome. Unfortunately, I absolutely believe Carr deserves a spot but the stain of the defense will be the deciding factor.
Chris Jones – Punter
As is the situation with Bailey, while Jones is having a pretty stellar year (tied for first in most punts, third best in placing punts inside the 20 yard line, ninth in both average yards per punt and net yards), he will likely be penalized by better options (Andy Lee, Brad Nortman) on better teams. He will also be slightly penalized by Harris’ inclusion as it is very unusual for two players from the same special teams unit to make it unless both are clearly the best possible option.
So there you have it. As I see it, four Cowboys will be heading for warmer weather this winter, all of whom will be doing so for the first time. Another two have a good shot to join their teammates. Of course, given the option, all of them (and all of us) hope there is one last bite of the Big Apple to take come February.