Vikings banking on Dan Bailey to finally solve kicking woes 

Vikings, Browns make changes at kicker (1:03)

Adam Schefter reports on Minnesota replacing Daniel Carlson with Dan Bailey and Greg Joseph replacing Zane Gonzalez in Cleveland. (1:03)

EAGAN, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings' experiment with a rookie kicker lasted all of two weeks.

Five months after trading up into the fifth round to draft Daniel Carlson while forgoing two picks in the process, Minnesota cut ties with the rookie after he missed three field goals at Green Bay, including two in overtime.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he doesn't regret giving up two sixth-round picks, in part because the Vikings were later able to sign three undrafted free agents, nor does he necessarily view himself as snakebitten when it comes to having success with kickers.

"Yeah, well, that's life," Zimmer said with a laugh. "I don't know. It's hard to figure out. You think you got a guy for a while and then he goes out and misses three in a big game. But things happen, I guess."

That's been the story for Zimmer his entire time as a head coach. The Vikings are set to sign former Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter, making him the fourth kicker to play for Zimmer since he arrived in Minnesota in 2014.

Sunday's game against the Packers ending in a 29-29 tie "feels like a loss" for Zimmer. Had Carlson made his field goals, especially the would-be game-winner, the Vikings would be in a different situation.

Now they're putting all their trust in Bailey, hoping the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history (behind Justin Tucker) will be able to solve their woes in that department.

Bailey's journey took an interesting turn two weeks ago. After seven seasons with the Cowboys, who signed him as a rookie free agent in 2011, Dallas released Bailey during roster cuts, opting to keep Brett Maher, who at the time had not kicked in a regular-season game.

The move was similar to the one that played out with Kai Forbath, who re-signed with Minnesota on a one-year deal in free agency, a month before the Vikings made Carlson the highest drafted kicker in franchise history.

Carlson and Forbath competed throughout the spring offseason program and training camp before the kicking competition ended with the veteran being released on Aug. 20.

Bailey connected on 88.2 percent of field goals throughout his career. All of his home games in Dallas, like the ones he'll play in Minnesota, took place indoors. Bailey has a 91.7 field-goal percentage in a dome and has not missed an extra point at home in 145 career attempts.

He's coming off the worst season of career after missing four games because of a groin injury. Bailey connected on 15-of-20 field-goal tries and missed the first two extra points of his career, all of which came after he was injured.

As he learned with his recent release, the success Bailey has had throughout his career doesn’t insulate him if he doesn’t consistently perform.

And he certainly won't get any public sympathy from his new head coach if things go wrong.

Carlson missed two field goals from 42 yards out in the Vikings' third preseason game against Seattle. After his first attempt sailed wide left, Zimmer opted to go for a two-point conversion after scoring early in the second quarter instead of bringing Carlson out to kick the extra point.


"Just let him (Carlson) know that if he's going to miss them (field goals), I'm going to go for two," Zimmer said in August.

Forbath, the eighth-most accurate kicker in NFL history, booted a career-high 32 field goals in 2017, which included six from 50 yards or further. He scored 130 points during the regular season and hit three field goals against the Saints to send the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game, including a 49- and 53-yarder in the fourth quarter.

But Forbath also struggled with extra points, going 34-of-39 on such kicks. His five misses were the most in the NFL in 2017. There was no third season for Forbath in Minnesota.

After scoring all nine of the Vikings' points in the 2015 NFC wild card game, Blair Walsh sailed a 27-yard game-winning field goal wide left and was blamed for the loss.

"It's a chip shot," Zimmer said postgame. "He's got to make it."

The Vikings are banking that a veteran presence in the kicking game will help them in a season with Super Bowl expectations. Bailey turned down four offers since the start of the season before deciding on Minnesota. If he can come through in the areas Carlson and others before him couldn't, Minnesota might finally solve its kicking woes.