'Boys Running Out of Kicking Options

Two Dallas targets have reportedly inked deals with other teams.

The Dallas Cowboys entered the 2006 off-season with expectations of signing a quality veteran placekicker. One day into free agency, the team is finding that many of its top options are quickly signing elsewhere.

Saturday, Tampa Bay's Matt Bryant re-signed with the Bucs and Green Bay's Ryan Longwell signed with the Minnesota Vikings. Both players were believed to be near the top of the free agent wishlist for the Cowboys as they look to find a replacement for Billy Cundiff.

Even 49ers K Joe Nedney, an outside candidate at best for the Cowboys, re-signed with San Francisco Saturday.

Unrestricted free agent Adam Vinatieri remains an option despite the fact he will command more money than either Bryant, Longwell or Nedney. In fact, signing Vinatieri could cost the Cowboys more than any other kicker in the league.

Vinatieri was tagged with the franchise label last season in New England, earning $2.51 million. The Patriots did not tag him this year, but if they did, the 33-year-old kicker would have earned roughly $3.01 million (which is 120 percent of his previous salary).

Dallas would have be in that range in order to have a realistic chance to sign him this off-season.

At the NFL Scouting Combine last month, rumors ran wild about the Cowboys and Vinatieri, that is until reports surfaced that the Patriots would do "what was needed" to bring him back to New England with a long-term deal.

Last year, Vinatieri connected on 20-of-25 of his field goal attempts. But aside from his consistency, his ability to convert under pressure situations is what makes him such a valuable commodity.

Vinatieri has kicked two game-winning field goals in the Super Bowl and one in the AFC Championship game in a driving snowstorm, aside from numerous clutch kicks during the regular season.

Another possible candidate would be the Colts' Mike Vanderjagt, however he does not handle kickoffs which is a trait preferred by Bill Parcells.

The Cowboys used four kickers during the 2005 season and saw all four struggle. Arguably the lack of a quality kicker cost the team a chance to pick up two more wins and a spot in the playoffs.

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