Jason Garrett explains decision to keep Maher, cut Bailey

Cowboys kicker Brett Maher (2) kicks a field goal during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium.Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys coach said releasing reliable kicker was a tough business decision.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett began the week leading into the season-opener versus the Carolina Panthers by talking about the surprising decision the team made to go with Brett Maher as its starting kicker.

Dallas cut Dan Bailey on Saturday. Bailey brought stability to the kicking game for the Cowboys for most of the last seven seasons. He made 89 percent of his field goal attempts for the first six years of his career before a groin injury caused him to dip to 75 percent last season.

Garrett, of course, said it was a difficult decision to cut Bailey, but the business side of the game dictated the move. Maher was apparently as good or better than Bailey in training camp and keeping him instead of Bailey will save about $3 million.

(Maher) has experience in the Canadian Football League, Garrett said. He was a good college kicker and really came to work every day and did an excellent job for us. The opportunities that he had for us in practice and in games for the most part he handled really, really well and that gave us confidence enough to make this decision.

Maher, a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection at Nebraska, spent the 2014 through 2017 seasons playing in the CFL before catching on with the Cowboys this time around. He made 78 percent of his field goal tries in the CFL and hit a 57-yard field goal in the preseason finale against the Texans on Thursday.

Garrett also spoke to the decision to keep Rico Gathers as a fourth tight end despite Gatherss arrest for marijuana possession on Friday night. The Cowboy coach acknowledged that Gathers made a poor decision and there will be internal team consequences, but the team still likes Gatherss upside and what he showed during training camp and in the preseason games.