Long-time Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant took to Twitter to announce that the Falcons are going to release him after 10 years. Bryant, who was Tampa Bay’s kicker from 2005-2008 said this on Twitter:
— matt bryant (@Matt_Bryant3) February 6, 2019
The Falcons are moving on from the 43-year old Bryant due to his age. While in Atlanta, Bryant connected on 250-of-282 field goals at an 88.7 percent connect rate. He missed just three of his 375 attempted extra points with the Falcons.
Bryant made 20-of-21 field goals last year (95.2 percent) and hit 33-of-35 extra points (94.3 percent). He nailed a 57-yard field goal to increase the Falcons’ lead to 34-29 to finish off the Bucs in the fourth quarter in a home win for Atlanta earlier in the year, also nailing a 45-yarder in the victory. Bryant also made the game-winning 37-yard field goal to beat the Bucs at Tampa Bay in the 2018 season finale, 34-32, which was his final kick as a Falcon.
Would the Bucs be interested in a reunion with their former kicker and nemesis? Having former Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong on Bruce Arians’ coaching staff as Tampa Bay’s new special teams coordinator could certainly help make that happen if there is interest from both sides.
Tampa Bay has struggled mightily at the kicker position since Bryant was released after the 2008 season. Bryant made 83.1 percent of his field goals with the Bucs, including a career-long and team-record 62-yarder in a last-second win over Philadelphia in 2006, before moving on to Tampa Bay’s division rivals.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht has employed over half a dozen kickers in the last five years alone, including drafting Roberto Aguayo in the second round in 2016. After Aguayo and his replacement, veteran Nick Folk, failed in 2017, Licht turned to Patrick Murray to finish out the season before signing Chandler Catanzaro in 2018. Catanzaro suffered the same fate that Folk did, not making it through an entire season before being replaced by Cairo Santos to finish the year.
The Bucs are interested in bringing back the 27-year old Santos, who connected on 9-of-12 field goals (75 percent) and made all 17 of his extra points, but Bryant could be viewed as a short-term upgrade at the kicker position. Tampa Bay’s best option would be to sign both kickers and let a training camp competition decide the winner for the 2019 season.