2012 free-agent scouting reports
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This is the 46th in a series of scouting reports on key players who are expected to become free agents March 13, unless they are re-signed before then.
News: The Browns gave Dawson the franchise tag in 2011, and he played under the one-year franchise tender. The 37-year-old Dawson is the last player from the expansion 1999 squad still on the Browns' roster, and the club figures to try to re-sign him. "He's another player that I feel like I've gained a strong appreciation for," Browns head coach Pat Shurmur said near the end of the regular season. "What a pro. So, we'll see how that plays out. I'm a Phil Dawson fan."
Notes: Dawson has been one of the NFL's steadier kickers in recent years. The 13-year pro from Texas connected on 24-of-29 field-goal attempts in 2011 (82.8 percent) and has hit better than 80 percent of his field goals in each of the past five seasons. Overall, Dawson has converted 276-of-332 field goals (83.1 percent) in his career.
Positives: Dawson's consistency is his calling card, and that's no small feat, for two reasons. One, the majority of his games each season have been outdoors. Two, the Browns' offense is weak. More than half of Dawson's 29 attempts a season ago were from 40 yards and beyond, and he connected on 14-of-16 of those tries. Also, he was a career-best 7-of-8 on FG attempts of 50 yards or longer.
Negatives: Dawson isn't overpowering on kickoffs. He forced just 10 touchbacks in 59 attempts in 2011. Before hitting seven field goals of 50-plus yards in 2011, he had missed his previous four attempts over the past two seasons. Dawson's age and career length might make further improvement difficult to expect.
Risk factor: Low. This is a strong UFA PK class, and Dawson is one of the best available at his position. Dawson would be a solid short-term option for teams looking to stabilize their PK play. His ability to handle the elements is a major plus.