Lirim Hajrullahu will get another shot at joining the Dallas Cowboys this season after making his NFL debut in 2021 for America’s Team. The Cowboys signed Hajrullahu to add competition to the kicking roster on Friday. Undrafted rookie free agent Jonathan Garibay is the only other kicker on the team.
Hajrullahu joined the Cowboys last season during training camp while kicker Greg Zuerlein recovered from offseason back surgery. He was called back to action by the Cowboys in November 2021 when Zuerlein tested positive for COVID-19.
In his first NFL action, Hajrullahu hit five of five point-after attempts in the victory over Atlanta. He also hit two extra-point attempts in the preseason against Houston but did not attempt a field goal in either appearance.
Once Zuerlein returned, Hajrullahu was released, and he made his way to Carolina, where he played in three games, all losses. He went 4-of-5 on field-goal attempts and 3-of-3 on point-after-touchdown attempts (PATs). His longest field goal with the Panthers was a 35-yarder against Tampa Bay.
Hajrullahu began his kicking career in Canada, where he was a two-time All-Star and successfully kicked the game-winning field goal in the 2017 Grey Cup with the Toronto Argonauts. In addition to the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys, Hajrullahu also spent time on the Washington Commanders’ practice squad.
While he was a long-shot last season to make the Cowboys, with Zuerlein now a member of the New York Jets, 2022 could be the year that Hajrullahu finds a starting kicking job in Dallas. He is being brought in to compete and provide options for the team should Garibay fail to make the transition from college to the pros.
Garibay joined the Cowboys after a successful career at Texas Tech. He famously made a 62-yard game-winning field goal that kept the Red Raiders in bowl competition. It went down as the longest field goal in Texas Tech history and the second-longest kick in Big 12 history.
In his last season at Texas Tech, Garibay hit 15-of-16 field goals and 49-of-50 PATs. Garibay only saw limited action in 2020 as a member of the Red Raiders, appearing in the final five games and hitting eight field goals and all six PATs. He kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired to help Texas Tech defeat Baylor.
Whether he makes the transition to pro football is yet to be seen, but bringing in Hajrullahu adds an experienced and proven kicker as an insurance policy in case Garibay is not ready to make the leap. Garibay has shown in college that he can make the tough kicks under pressure, while Hajrullahu demonstrated that he can be called on at a moment’s notice, even mid-season.
The Dallas Cowboys will open training camp in Oxnard, California, on July 28 and will have the first padded practice on August 1. In all, the Cowboys will have 13 dates open to the public, including a joint practice with the Denver Broncos.
The Cowboys will face the Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers on the road for the first two preseason games this season before playing the final game at home against the Seattle Seahawks. Dallas opens the 2022 season at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 11.