Greg Zuerlein

Cowboys Place Amari Cooper, DeMarcus Lawrence On PUP

The Cowboys have placed wide receiver Amari Cooper and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence on the Physically Unable to Perform list to begin training camp (Twitter link via Todd Archer of ESPN.com). Cooper is still recuperating from a lingering ankle issue while Lawrence has been hampered by back problems. 

Cooper, a seventh-year veteran, was previously scratched from Cowboys minicamp. He underwent minor ankle surgery in January but the latest trouble surfaced in May. The Pro Bowl wideout has been here before — a sprain cost him time in 2017 and reemerged in early last season. To date, Cooper has not missed a game as a Cowboy. But, if his recovery drags, they’ll be leaning more on Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb.

Lawrence nearly opted out last year, but ultimately went on to appear in all 16 games for the Cowboys with 6.5 sacks. Statistically, his best work came in 2017 and 2018 as he registered a combined 25 sacks. The Cowboys hope that he can quickly put his back (and shoulder) injuries behind him to resume his Pro Bowl form.

The stars will be joined on the list by kicker Greg Zuerlein (back), defensive tackle Trysten Hill (knee), newly-signed rookie defensive end Chauncey Golston (hamstring), and offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt (knee). The Cowboys will also place UDFA receiver T.J. Vasher on the non-football injury list as he works his way back from a knee injury suffered at Texas Tech.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Cut Kickers Austin MacGinnis, Lirim Hajrullahu

In a move that may or may not make the final episode of the latest Hard Knocks season, the Rams have decided on a kicker.

The team made the decision Friday to waive kickers Austin MacGinnis and Lirim Hajrullahu. This will leave Sam Sloman, a seventh-round pick out of Miami (Ohio) as Greg Zuerlein‘s successor.

Sloman separated from the other two competitors over the past week, per The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue (on Twitter). Sloman made 87% of his field goals as a senior for the Redhawks last season.

The Rams signed MacGinnis and Hajrullahua as UDFAs this year. This will mark the first time since 2011 the Rams will head into a season without Zuerlein as their kicker. They opted to let the Pro Bowl specialist walk in free agency, when he signed with the Cowboys.

Contract Details: Zuerlein, Bills, Cardinals

Here are the latest details from the second wave of free agency. All links courtesy of the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson, unless otherwise noted.

NFC Contract Details: Zuerlein, Poe, Shell, Vikings

We’ve got a bunch of contract details to pass along, all out of the NFC:

Cowboys To Sign K Greg Zuerlein

Young GZ is headed to Dallas. On Friday, the Cowboys agreed to sign Greg Zuerlein, as Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets

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The kicker will receive a three-year deal with a base value of $7.5MM. That marks a pay bump for Greg The Leg, who averaged about $1.6MM per year on his rookie contract with the Rams, with $2.3MM in base salary in the final year.

Zuerlein will also get to reunite with his old special teams coach, John Fassel. Across eight seasons with the Rams – split evenly between St. Louis and L.A. – Zuerlein connected on 82% of his field goal tries. That number doesn’t quite tell the whole story, however. At his best, Zuerlein is one of the league’s most accurate, as shown by his 95% success rate in 2017. Last year, however, he made only 72.7% of his three-point shots with little luck (5-of-11) from 40-49 yards out.

Last year, Brett Maher and Kai Forbath combined to make 75% of the Cowboys field goals.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Eyeing Greg Zuerlein, Kai Forbath

The Cowboys are reportedly eyeing free agent kickers. Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News reports (via Twitter) that the organization has expressed interest in re-signing Kai Forbath. More notably, the reporter notes that Greg Zuerlein is on the team’s radar.

Greg The Leg has spent his entire seven-year career with the Rams, including a 2017 campaign where he earned a Pro Bowl nod and first-team All-Pro recognition. While the veteran has connected on 82-percent of his field goal attempts during his career, that number dropped to only 72.7-percent in 2019.

Forbath had a three-game stint with the Cowboys last season, connecting on all 10 of his field goal attempts (including seven from the 40-49-yard range). He also spent two games with New England during the 2019 campaign.

The veteran has had stints with seven different organizations during his career, appearing in 81 career games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams HC, GM Discuss Offseason

It’s been a busy 24 months for the Rams, and it’ll all culminate with a crucial 2020 offseason.

They’ve handed out a number of high-priced extensions to quarterback Jared Goff, defensive lineman Aaron Donald, and others, leading to only $21MM in cap space this year. The organization also traded their 2020 and 2012 first-rounders for Jalen Ramsey, leaving the team with reduced draft capital.

Plus, the organization is staring at a long list of impending unrestricted free agents. In other words, the Rams could look a bit different next season.

Head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead spoke to ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry about some of their critical offseason decisions. The entire article is worth a read, but we snagged some of the notable soundbites below:

On if the front office has engaged in any trade talks:

McVay: “Usually, Aaron Donald is off the table. I think, to answer your question, I think you kind of know who are the guys that there’s not something that would be worth it, but those are ongoing conversations and I think we’re always open to being able to explore things that can upgrade us as a team.

“What we have done a nice job of is identifying those foundational pieces to try to build around.”

Snead: “This time of year, it is interesting. You get calls on a lot of players. There’s a new era, in that somebody may call and ask about your best player, which in the past, I don’t know that phone call would be made. … But usually the answer is ‘No.'”

On free agent left tackle Andrew Whitworth‘s potential return:

McVay: “We’re pretty confident. He still played a really high level last year. His impact isn’t exclusive to just playing the left tackle position.”

On free agent kicker Greg Zuerlein:

McVay: “He’s done so many things and he’s a great kicker and I think those established veterans are so important, especially when every time he takes the field, there’s points at stake, unless he’s kicking off. But we want to make sure we’re evaluating the guys in the draft and then we’re going to have free agency.”

On potential extensions for receiver Cooper Kupp and safety John Johnson:

Snead: “The goal would be, let’s say guys like those two, if we do want them to get back, it would be great to have that box checked. What we have to do now is, because we have, I call it more urgent guys whose contracts actually expire, get through that process first and then move on to — I don’t want to call them less urgent — but less urgent than the players whose contracts are expiring.”

On potentially franchising free agent linebackers Dante Fowler or Cory Littleton:

Snead: “All options are on the table.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Work Out K Brett Maher

With Greg Zuerlein dealing with a quad injury, the Rams worked out former Cowboys kicker Brett Maher, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

This Maher audition comes after he traveled to Tennessee for a workout with the Titans, who ended up signing Greg Joseph off the Panthers’ practice squad. Zuerlein has not missed a game this season but missed five in 2018. Sean McVay said earlier this week the Rams would explore kicking options.

Maher had been Dallas’ kicker from the start of last season to earlier this month, but his 10-for-20 connect rate — which included two 60-plus-yarders — prompted the Cowboys to move on. Maher, who also made a 62-yard field goal as a rookie in 2018, made 29 of 36 field goals last season. He was 36-for-36 on PATs in 13 Cowboy games this year.

Last season, the Rams used Cairo Santos and Sam Ficken in Zuerlein’s five-game absence. The All-Pro specialist returned late in the season and made both the game-tying and game-winning field goals to send Los Angeles to the Super Bowl.

This season marks the final year of the 32-year-old kicker’s second NFL contract, with Zuerlein joining Dante Fowler, Michael Brockers, Cory Littleton and Austin Blythe among Rams impending free agents.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Greg Zuerlein Avoids Injury Designation

When the Rams take the field in Super Bowl LIII, they will do it with Greg Zuerlein ready to go. The kicker and NFC Championship game hero avoided an injury designation, all but assuring he will be good to go in Atlanta, NBC Sports reports

There was some doubt on his availability after he was spotted with a boot on his left foot following their game on Sunday vs. the Saints. He also missed practice all week with a strained left foot, but it appears the absence was more precautionary than anything else.

Zuerlein played a large role in helping the Rams upend the Saints in the conference title game. Of his four made field goals, one came from 48 yards out with 15 seconds left to force overtime. He then added the game-winning 57-yard boot on the Rams’ lone overtime possession to secure the come-from-behind win.

In 11 games this season, the 2017 First Team All-Pro made 27 field goals, including 4-of-6 from beyond 50 yards. With Zuerlein a threat to score from midfield and punter Johnny Hekker a fake-punt artist, the Rams have two of the game’s biggest special teams weapons ready to go for their big tilt with New England next Sunday.

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Rams K Greg Zuerlein Still A Week Away

Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein is expected to miss at least one more week while dealing with a groin injury, head coach Sean McVay told reporters, including Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Zuerlein suffered his injury during pregame warmups prior to Week 2, but given his skill and recovery timeline, Los Angeles opted to not place him Zuerlein on injured reserve, which would have mandated an absence of at least eight games. Instead, the Rams went with Sam Ficken for two games, during which he converted only one-of-three field goals, before signing veteran Cairo Santos in advance of Week 5. Santos made both of his field goal attempts on Sunday, but missed one-of-four extra points.

Zuerlein, of course, is one of the NFL’s best kickers, and earned both first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2017. He ranked third last season with a 95% field goal conversion rate, and made six-of-seven attempts from 50+ yards. Per Football Outsiders, Zuerlein’s work on field goals and extra points added 11.3 points of field position, good for fifth in the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.