Mike Vanderjagt, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, is unemployed.
For the first time in team history, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones spent millions on a kicker. But that kicker did not make it through the season. On Monday, the Cowboys cut Mike Vanderjagt, who in March signed a three-year, $5.5 million deal that included a $2.5 million signing bonus, and signed Martin Gramatica.
The most accurate kicker in NFL history, Vanderjagt made 13 of 18 field goal attempts in the first 11 games after missing just seven kicks in the previous three seasons with Indianapolis.
He never completely earned Bill Parcells’ trust despite reassuring the coach he was fine. However after missing two kicks Nov. 19 vs. Indianapolis from 32 and 46 yards, Parcells admitted he was concerned about the kicking situation.
On Sunday, the Cowboys play at Giants Stadium, a tricky place to kick in the winter, with a chance to take a two-game lead on the New York Giants in the NFC East
Gramatica spent time earlier this season with Indianapolis when Adam Vinatieri was bothered by an ankle injury and was in training camp with New England.
For the first time since 2003, Vanderjagt kicked off regularly, and the Cowboys allowed just 18 yards per return. Vanderjagt had three touchbacks.
An unbelievable move and one that makes no sense. Yes, Vanderjagt’s misses were frustrating. But there’s a reason Gramatica was on the street. Especially ironic since Billy Cundiff was out there until a couple days ago.
Frankly, as aggravating as Vanderjagt was, there’s no reason to think he’s not going to get better. You have to ride it out with elite players. If nothing else, drop the project-of-the-week guy at the bottom of the roster that Big Bill loves to churn and add a second kicker.
Update: Matt Mosley seems to agree: ” The Cowboys have just replaced the most accurate kicker in league history with, perhaps, one of the most inaccurate kickers in football. Over the 2003-04 seasons, Martin Gramatica was 6-of-12 from 30-39 yards. But he did manage to go 4-of-13 in the 40-49 range. “
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