Vikings release kicker Dan Bailey after rough season

Published 5:38 pm Tuesday, March 9, 2021

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings cleared more salary cap space by cutting kicker Dan Bailey on Tuesday, keeping their carousel of specialists spinning for yet another season.

Bailey ranked last in the league in 2020 in field goals (68.2 percent) and extra points (86.0 percent), among kickers who appeared in 10 or more games. Both of those were career lows, by far. The 10-year veteran missed five field goals and five extra points over the final five games, putting his job in jeopardy.

The move provides the Vikings a $1.7 million savings on their cap this season. They’ll carry a dead money charge of $2.1 million, for the remaining prorated portions of the signing bonus they gave Bailey a year ago. There were two seasons left on that deal.

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“Although the Vikings wanted to keep Dan Bailey, we were unable to agree to a renegotiated contract. They did not want to pay his current contract so he will be a free agent as of today,” agent Jordan Woy said on Twitter.

The Vikings got a jump start last month on the replacement plan for Bailey by signing Greg Joseph off the practice squad of Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay. Joseph, a native of South Africa, kicked in 14 games for Cleveland in 2018 and two games for Tennessee in 2019.

Whether they go with Joseph or someone else they haven’t signed, the Vikings will have a fifth kicker under coach Mike Zimmer, who has begun his eighth season.

Bailey, who was released by Dallas at the end of training camp in 2018 with what was then the second-best career field-goal percentage in NFL history, kicked in 46 games for Minnesota. He was picked to succeed Daniel Carlson, a fifth-round draft pick who was impulsively dumped after missing three field goals in his second regular-season game — including two in overtime during a tie with Green Bay. Kai Forbath (23 games) and Blair Walsh (41 games) preceded them.

Bailey now ranks 12th all time in field goals at 85.9 percent.

Special teams struggles for the Vikings have transcended the kickers, too. Zimmer, who recently promoted Ryan Ficken to be his third special teams coordinator after letting Marwan Maalouf’s contract expire, has had four different punters and five different long snappers over his first seven seasons. Only one of those changes was made for injury. The rest were due to performance or cost.

Last week, the Vikings released tight end Kyle Rudolph to create a little more than $5 million of room under the cap. More veteran cuts could be coming before free agency begins on March 17.