Mat McBriar Injury: Will Dallas Cowboys Re-Sign Punter Despite Cyst?

Tom Firme@TFirmeAnalyst IIJanuary 31, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 11:  Mat McBriar #1 of the Dallas Cowboys punts against the New York Jets during their NFL Season Opening Game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Mat McBriar, the fine punter for the Dallas Cowboys, will have surgery to dissolve a cyst below his left knee next week, according to ESPNDallas. McBriar said that he expects to be back in full health by the summer. Whether he re-signs with the Cowboys after he has the cyst removed is another question, as he becomes an unrestricted free agent in March.

McBriar seems upbeat about the operation. He said, "Yeah, it's bad timing, but this is probably a little bit more than being able to play, but being able to have a functional foot for the rest of my life."

While few NFL players are willing to say it, that's a major consideration for players, since many of them are bound to face painful retirements due to the numerous hits they take in their playing careers.

McBriar, a seven-year pro, stated that doctors will remove an auxiliary joint feeding the cyst as they remove the cyst, which was diagnosed last week.

He's hoping to return to Dallas for the 2012 season. The 32-year-old Australian said, "It's never sort of crossed my mind to play somewhere else. I'd love to finish my career as being a one-team player. In this day and age, that doesn't happen much, but to me that would mean something to me."


The Cowboys Are Best Off Retaining McBriar

McBriar might be not be able to start his recovery until around the time free agency begins, but Jerry Jones should take the leap of faith of signing McBriar to a modest contract.

The 2011 campaign was a mere slip-up for McBriar. He had career lows in punting average and net punting average. In Week 1, McBriar contributed to blowing a 14-point lead against the New York Jets with a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown. He missed two games with drop foot.

His career resume suggests that he should return to a strong form after recovering from the operation.

McBriar, a two-time second-team All-Pro selection, has served the Cowboys tremendously in his seven years in a Cowboys uniform. He's led the NFL in punting average twice. McBriar's seventh in NFL in career punting average (45.3 yards per punt). The Hawaii product placed in the top 10 in punting average five straight years from 2006 to 2010.

Giving up on McBriar would lead to great uncertainty at a position that is difficult to fill. Generally, finding a surefire punter is difficult because the NFL doesn't have many great punters. Drafting a good one is almost impossible. Two other free-agent punters will be on the market, Daniel Sepulveda and Donnie Jones.

Sepulveda did alright in eight games for the Pittsburgh Steelers, averaging 46.1 yards per punt in his fourth pro year. Jones averaged just 44.3 yards per punt for the St. Louis Rams.

Chris Jones, who averaged 42.6 yards per punt in the two games McBriar missed, wouldn't be a good answer. However, the Cowboys might want to keep Jones around in case something happens to McBriar.

Therefore, the best bet is to stick with McBriar. Being in full condition for McBriar would mean having full range in his kicking leg. One can expect him to work back into that condition. He'll be strong and able to kick like a top-10 punter again, and should do it in a Cowboys uniform.