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As free agency officially gets underway, the first move the team makes is a departure, not an arrival. The Dallas Cowboys released long-time punter Chris Jones on Wednesday. Jones’s exit spares the Cowboys a $2 million cap hit as his base salary comes off the books. Jones’s release does leave $500,000 of dead money on the books.
Hunter Niswander had taken over punting duties after Jones was lost for the season due to sports hernia surgery. Prior to that, Jones had punted in all 16 games for seven consecutive seasons.
Niswander had an average of 44.6 yards per punt attempt while playing in XFL. He performed even more admirably with the Cowboys, in 8 games averaging 47.2 yards per punt. His play down the stretch likely made the decision for the Cowboys easier, seeing that they could save money with beter production.
John Fassel, the special teams coordinator for the Cowboys, has already brought forth a complete change to the unit since being hired. First, Greg Zuerlein was brought in as kicker replacing Kai Forbath without much competition, then long snapper Jake McQuaide from the Rams agreed to terms earlier this week, replacing 16-year veteran L.P. Ladouceur. The Dallas Cowboys are left with only Niswander, who although he is on the roster isn’t guaranteed not to get competition in the coming months.