Mike McCarthy will call plays; Cowboys commit to finding new kicker

The offseason isn’t officially underway yet, but the Dallas Cowboys have already promised change — at least at one position. 

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Dallas will start over at kicker after Brett Maher missed five of his six extra-point attempts over two playoff games. Maher missed four extra points in the team’s wild-card win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and his lone extra-point attempt in the divisional-round loss to the San Francisco 49ers was blocked.

Maher appeared to redeem himself at first following the blocked extra-point attempt, making both field goals. Jones said following that game that the coaching staff and Maher were “exonerated” because of the made kicks in the 19-12 loss.

Maher, who rejoined the Cowboys in August, was one of the league’s better kickers in 2022. He ranked ninth in field-goal percentage among kickers who played at least 10 games (90.6%) as he made all 14 of his kicks from within 40 yards. He also made a 60-yard field goal during the season and made 50 of 53 extra-point attempts. 

Jones also told reporters at the Senior Bowl on Wednesday that head coach Mike McCarthy will call plays on offense after the team and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore mutually parted ways earlier in the week. He called the decision to make McCarthy the playcaller the “logical step” after Dallas’ 12-5 season, in which it ranked 11th in total offense and fourth in scoring.

“It will be, in principle, the way he operated [the offense] in Green Bay,” Jones said when asked if McCarthy will run an offensive system similar to the one he ran when he was the Packers’ head coach. “I’m sure he’ll tell you it evolved.”

The Cowboys are still in the process of adding an offensive coordinator to replace Moore. Jones said that the team has interviewed Rams tight ends coach and assistant head coach Thomas Brown as well as Panthers running backs coach Jeff Nixon for the role. They’re reportedly adding former Seahawks offensive line coach Mike Solari for the same role in Dallas.

In terms of the rest of the offense, executive vice president Stephen Jones told reporters that the team is committed to Dak Prescott at quarterback long-term and Dallas is open to signing him to an extension. Prescott signed a four-year, $160 million contract ahead of the 2021 season.

While his son stated the team’s commitment to Prescott, Jerry Jones said that the team is committed to drafting a quarterback and added that he should have made a plan to draft a quarterback every season years ago. After arguably having a career year in 2021, Prescott threw for 2,860 yards, 23 touchdowns and a league-high 15 interceptions in 12 games after missing five weeks due to a thumb injury on his throwing hand. 

Both Jerry and Stephen Jones also said they want Ezekiel Elliott to return to Dallas in 2023. The star running back isn’t a free agent, but he’s been viewed as a cut candidate. Releasing him after June 1 would save the team nearly $11 million in cap space. Elliott, who will turn 28 in July, is coming off career lows in rushing yards (876) and yards per attempt (3.8). Both Joneses acknowledged Elliott’s contract would need to be redone in order for him to remain a Cowboy.

Finally, Jerry Jones said that the Cowboys will revisit talks with Odell Beckham Jr. following a disappointing season from their receivers. While Jones said he didn’t regret trading Amari Cooper to the Browns, he said that they had “too much reliance” on what third-round rookie Jalen Tolbert would do and though that they would “have better results” with Michael Gallup’s rehab. 

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