3 USFL options for the Cowboys to consider at kicker in 2023
With only Tristan Vizcaino on the roster, the Cowboys kicking situation is far from settled. Viscaino, signed late last season, is an intriguing 26-year old prospect from Washington.
As a pro, he’s bounced around from various teams and he’s only missed one field goal across his young career. Despite that, he has never been able to claim a full-time starting role with an NFL club and enters training camp as a generally unproven entity.
He could be the answer in 2023. He also might never make it out of training camp.
The story on the last guy
By most accounts, last season’s starter in Dallas, Brett Maher, had a career season in 2022. But after going 50-for-53 on extra points and 29-for-32 on field goals over the regular season, he missed four extra point attempts in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
While he managed to make two field goals against the 49ers in the divisional round, he inexplicably missed another extra point attempt.
In all, Maher missed six of his last seven extra point attempts last season. That could be explained as just a small blip on an otherwise brilliantly clear radar, but it’s hard to look at the 33-year-old kicker with any degree of confidence going forward.
Publicly, Dallas considers Maher a possible option this season but the veteran kicker still remains unsigned and team wants to first explore other options.
Special teams coach John Fassel discussed the kicker situation at the Cowboys rookie minicamp having this to say:
“Well, we got Tristan on the roster,” Fassel said. “I think anybody else on earth who is not on the team right now is under consideration.”
Fassel went on to discuss veteran options as well as USFL and XFL kickers, further reiterating every option is on the table.
Long-time NFL kickers like Robbie Gould, Mason Crosby and Ryan Succop are familiar names to most, but the same can’t be said for the USFL’s top kickers who are getting looked at.
Brandon Aubrey, Birmingham
Aubrey, a former Notre Dame soccer standout and MLS defender, has been one of the top kickers in the USFL since transitioning to the sport of football. He went 18-of-22 his first season as a USFL kicker and even though his overall volume is down in 2023, he’s improved to an 86 percent success rate this season.
For the second season in a row, Aubrey is considered one of the best kickers in the league, despite transitioning to the sport of football late in his professional career.
“It was three months before I realized I really enjoyed professional sports more than sitting in an office,” Aubrey said of his life after soccer. “So I went and got a football and went to a local football field to see what I could do. Then I found a kicking coach in Dallas to see what he could teach me and eventually he told me to put myself out there in the free agent cycle.”
Aubrey led the USFL in scoring (kicking) in 2022 and is currently No. 3 in the league today. The Plano, Texas native is new to the football game but between USFL, MLS, and Notre Dame, he has plenty of experience under the bright lights of high-level sports
His range isn’t going to rival Maher’s any time soon (49 yards is his longest) but his consistency is an attractive trait for a team like Dallas who may prioritize stability and consistency in 2023.
Luis Aguilar, Philadelphia
The 6-foot-3 kicker from Northern Arizona is one of the rising stars in the USFL. The kicker/punter recently set a league record for field goals in a game and ranks second in points scored (42) this season.
Aguilar has gone 12-for-14 in 2023 with a long of 56 yards (longest kick in the league this season). In this his second season in the league, he’s shown year-over-year improvement and at age 25, his needle is pointed up.
Aguilar also has the added bonus of being a punter. He’s placed five of his 19 punts inside the 20, adding to his value as a possible depth piece with the Cowboys.
Matt Coghlin, New Orleans
Coghlin, the top scorer in the USFL this season, is having a standout year with the Breakers. A perfect 10-for-10 on field goals and 15-for-15 on extra points, he’s the most accurate kicker in the league.
With a 51-yard kick on his resume, he has NFL-caliber distance to go with his accuracy. The 25-year-old kicker from Michigan State may not be as battle tested as the previous two in the USFL, but he was a five year starter in college so he’s not inexperienced, by any means.
For those Cowboys fans who are still having nightmares of missed extra points, it’s important to point out, of Coghlin’s 148 extra point attempts in college, not one of them missed its target. It’s hard to argue with flawless.