NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday that the Vikings re-signed Dan Bailey to a one-year, $1 million contract, per a source informed of the deal. The pact is worth a max of $2 million with incentives. The only guarantee in Bailey’s deal is $250,000 of his base salary, per Pelissero. The Vikings later announced they had agreed to terms with the kicker.
Bailey joined the Vikings in mid-September last season after the team jettisoned rookie Daniel Carlson. The 31-year-old Bailey converted 21 of 28 field goal attempts, with a long of 52 yards, and 30 of 31 extra point attempts in 14 games in 2018. The former Dallas Cowboys kicker is coming off the two worst seasons of his career, netting 75 percent of his field goals each of the past two years.
Minnesota has struggled with its kicking situation for years, but with the low-guarantee deal for Bailey, Mike Zimmer’s squad will stick with a veteran kicker who currently sits No. 5 all-time in field goal rate (86.6 percent).
One of the best six-year stretches for a kicker in NFL history preceded an up-and-down two years for Dan Bailey. From 2011 to 2016, Bailey connected on 89.5 percent of his field goal attempts for the Dallas Cowboys. In the past two seasons, however, he has made just 75 percent of his kicks, comfortably below the league average.
Bailey, once a premier kicker, is unemployed due to his recent struggles. But he’s still the fifth-most accurate ever at the position. At 31 years old, he seemingly has many years left.
Dan Bailey is gone. The club decided to cut the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history and keep a fourth tight end who was in jail when the day began.
No direct link exists between the decision to release Bailey and keep Rico Gathers, who was arrested and charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana. But it does underscore what a strange, unpredictable day it was at The Star.
And this is just the start. More personnel moves will follow in the next 72 hours as the club massages its roster for opening day. The biggest decision will be if Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick (Guillain-Barre syndrome) should be placed on injured reserve or carried on the active roster without a clear idea of when he can return.
While Frederick’s status with the club continues to unfold, Bailey’s does not. A brilliant Cowboys career has come to an unceremonious end.
Veteran Dan Bailey was signed in Week 3 to be the Vikings’ savior and provide stability after the disastrous three-miss outing in Week 2 from rookie Daniel Carlson, but Bailey offered more of the up-and-down play fans have grown accustomed to since they released veteran Ryan Longwell in 2012.
While Bailey went 30 of 31 on extra points, an area where predecessors Blair Walsh and Kai Forbath struggled, the 30-year-old missed a career-high seven of his 28 field goals, matching his 75 percent mark from 2017 when the Dallas Cowboys decided they’d likely move on from Bailey.
“I think, given the circumstance, on a personal level, I came in and thought it went OK,” Bailey said on Minnesota’s locker-clean-out day. “Definitely the last month personally, and then just as a unit, the whole operation with field goal and everything, I felt like we were really kind of gelling and working well. So I think it’s definitely trending upwards. There’s definitely a few kicks I’d certainly like to have back, but overall I think coming in with the situation the way it was, there’s a lot of positives to take away from it.”
The Vikings went 3-2 in games when Bailey missed field goals and 0-1 when he missed an extra point. He had a field goal blocked in a close game at Seattle that the league admitted should have been a leverage penalty on Bobby Wagner.
It didn’t help that Bailey missed two kicks in Philadelphia in just his third game with the Vikings, creating some apparent early distrust with the head coach. Bailey later missed from 48 and 56 yards in the the first half against the Green Bay Packers, prompting head coach Mike Zimmer to tell NBC’s Michele Tafoya that he’d be going for two points in the second half instead of putting the game in the hands of a kicker.
Some have questioned whether Bailey’s issues would be the final straw for special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who has gone through three punters and four kickers in four seasons, but the Vikings are reportedly interested in an extension for Priefer, the Vikings’ special teams coordinator since 2011. Priefer spent a lot of time working on holding with punter Matt Wile, who may have been the cause of some of Bailey’s mishits.