The Vikings will once again have a new kicker after releasing veteran Dan Bailey on Tuesday.
Bailey missed 10 of his last 26 kicks for the Vikings amid a career-worst slump and a back injury last season, his third year with the team. The 33-year-old former Pro Bowl kicker was headed for a competition if he stayed in Minnesota.
The Vikings and Bailey's representatives attempted to renegotiate his contract, but were unable to agree on terms, according to agent Jordan Woy.
General manager Rick Spielman said last week that cuts, restructures and extensions are being considered to get the Vikings under what's expected to be a shrunken 2021 salary cap. More cuts could be coming after the Vikings already shed the salaries of Bailey and tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Bailey's contract was expected to be addressed after the Vikings signed kicker Greg Joseph last month, guaranteeing the ex-Buccaneers' practice squad kicker $35,000 for a chance at the starting job in 2021. Now Joseph will likely compete with another addition, whether through free agency or the draft.
"It's always important to create as much competition as you can," Spielman said last week, "so we're always going to try to do that at every position."
The list of kickers during coach Mike Zimmer's Vikings tenure will grow. Bailey, who was signed in September 2018 to replace rookie Daniel Carlson, was the fourth kicker to appear in a regular season game for Zimmer.
Bailey had been solid through two seasons in Minnesota, earning the three-year contract extension after weathering changes at long snapper and holder — and a direct competitor when Spielman traded for Kaare Vedvik in August 2019.
Bailey kept the job over Vedvik, and had one of his best NFL seasons when he made 27 of 29 field goals plus all six kicks in two playoff games.
Last season started similarly, with Bailey making 36 of his first 39 kicks despite a midseason change at long snapper. But his play went off the rails in December, when Bailey missed three of his opening four tries against the Jaguars. His slump bottomed out the following week in Tampa Bay, where Bailey went 0 for 4 and the Vikings lost a pivotal game in the NFC playoff chase.
"I can easily say I've never had a day like that in my career," Bailey said afterward. "I've had some bad games here and there, but that one's definitely top of the list now, unfortunately."
Bailey leaves the Vikings having made 86% of his extra points and about 80% on field goals, weighed down by a finish too fraught with inconsistencies to warrant another strong commitment from the Vikings.