Matt Bryant

Matt Bryant Not Considering Retirement

Matt Bryant will celebrate his 41st birthday in a few weeks, but he’s not thinking retirement. The kicker says that he is looking forward to getting back to his old form in 2016 after a difficult 2015. Matt Bryant (vertical)

I’m good,” Bryant said, according to ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure. “Rest and not pushing it was the best. I could have played the last two games but without being 100 percent mentally sure about it, I expressed and it was agreed that it wouldn’t be the best for the team or myself. I still have some good, productive years left. I won’t let one anomaly of a year get in the way of what I’ve done and what I’m still capable of.

Of course, it’s not a given that Bryant will have the Falcons’ kicking job this year. The veteran made 14 of 18 field goals through ten games in 2015 before being placed on season-ending IR with a quad injury. Bryant avoided surgery on the injured quad, but Atlanta still wants to see if he has maintained strength in his kicking leg. As a Plan B for the veteran, the Falcons have signed undrafted kicker Nick Rose out of Texas. Rose made 13 of 17 field goals last season and also gained some internet notoriety when he nailed an 80-yard field goal in practice.

Bryant is scheduled to make $2.85MM in 2016, with a $1.3MM roster bonus. He’s also under contract for 2017 and he’ll carry a $2.833MM cap number in that season if he remains on the Falcons’ roster. Bryant’s current salary places him as the 14th highest paid kicker in the NFL, according to the data at Over The Cap.

Photo courtesy of USA Today of Sports Images.

Falcons Place Matt Bryant On IR

The 2015 season is over for Falcons kicker Matt Bryant, who was placed on injured reserve today by the team due to a quad injury (Twitter link). Shayne Graham, who has filled in for Bryant for the last two weeks, will continue to handle extra points and field goals for Atlanta down the stretch.

Although Bryant turned 40 this year, this is the first time since 2009 that he has missed action due to an injury. The veteran kicker remains under contract with the Falcons for two more years, and while he struggled a little this season, missing four of his 18 field goal attempts, I expect he remains in the team’s plans for 2016.

According to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the Falcons have filled Bryant’s roster spot by promoting nose tackle Joey Mbu to the 53-man roster from their practice squad, Mbu will provide depth in the middle this weekend for the Falcons’ defensive line, with Paul Soliai sidelined.

Falcons Sign Matt Bryant To Extension

FRIDAY, 7:47am: Bryant’s new deal is a three-year contract, with a total value of $8.5MM, according to Vaughn McClure and Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter links). It will count for about $2.483MM against 2015’s cap.

WEDNESDAY, 4:32pm: Veteran kicker Matt Bryant had been eligible for unrestricted free agency in less than two weeks, but the Falcons have ensured that he doesn’t reach the open market. The club announced today in a press release that Bryant has inked a contract extension that will keep him in Atlanta.

Bryant, who has been with the Falcons since the 2009 season, has been very consistent during his time in Atlanta. He made 29 of 32 field goal attempts in 2014, with his only three misses coming from 50+ yards out. In 2013, two of his three misses were from 50+ yards.

While financial terms of Bryant’s new extension aren’t yet known, he is coming off a four-year deal that paid him $2.675MM per year. That annual salary put him just outside of the NFL’s top 10 kickers, and given how good he has been since signing it, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him bumped up to the $3MM per year range. Of course, the Baylor product will turn 40 in May, so this deal almost certainly won’t be another four-year pact.

With Bryant off the market, Stephen Gostkowski and Matt Prater are the notable kickers without contracts yet for 2015. Jay Feely, Mike Nugent, and Ryan Succop are also eligible to become UFAs in March.

Combine Pressers: Colts, Bengals, Falcons

The last of today’s head coach and general manager press conferences with the media are in the books, so let’s check in on the highlights for the noteworthy sessions that we haven’t already covered. Here’s the latest, with all links going to Twitter accounts for reporters on the scene in Indianapolis:

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano:

  • The team will take a look at all its options at the safety position, which may be an area of need. Grigson indicated that the Colts would like to re-sign Mike Adams, who “never played like he was long in the tooth.”
  • Both Pagano and Grigson stressed the importance of improving the team’s running game. Asked about the possibility of adding a workhorse back, Pagano said he’d love to have a player like that, but added that the club could get the production it needs with a committee approach.
  • Expect the Colts to always be on the lookout for pass rushers. Grigson said today that even if he had 12 pass rushers, he’d want a 13th.
  • Veteran wideout Reggie Wayne hasn’t yet informed the team if he wants to play in 2015. As Grigson notes, everyone knows what he means to the organization, so if Wayne does continue his career, it will almost certainly happen in Indianapolis — for now, he doesn’t have a contract for next season.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis:

  • According to Lewis, there have been no discussions yet about his contract, which is set to expire after the 2015 season.
  • Lewis didn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement for Jermaine Gresham when he was asked today if there’s a place on the Bengals for the free-agent-to-be going forward. The veteran tight end is considered likely to land elsewhere this offseason.
  • According to Lewis, the Bengals have made a conscious effort to draft high-character plays in recent years. The head coach acknowledged that in some cases he can’t “fix” a player with off-field issues, and he doesn’t want to waste his time dealing with the distractions.
  • Lewis confirmed that he has spoken to veteran defensive back Terence Newman, who wants to continue his playing career. It’s not clear yet if there will be a spot in Cincinnati for Newman, who will turn 37 in September.

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff:

  • We covered Dimitroff’s presser earlier this afternoon, but the GM also spoke to local media off to the side, and addressed a few more topics. Among them: Dimitroff said the Falcons would like to get a deal done quickly with kicker Matt Bryant, who is eligible for free agency.
  • We heard this morning that the Falcons haven’t opened negotiations yet on a contract extension for Julio Jones, but Dimitroff was adamant today the club wants to keep the standout receiver in Atlanta for years to come.
  • Both Dimitroff and Quinn are high on running back Devonta Freeman, whom the GM thinks could be a full-time back in Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme.
  • According to Dimitroff, Quinn’s philosophy is that you don’t have to pay a huge amount for a pass rusher. The GM added that he believes the free agent class has some depth at that spot, and it’s worth noting that Quinn’s defense in Seattle frequently rotated part-time specialists in and out as a way of pressuring the quarterback.
  • Cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford should be scheme fits for the Falcons’ new system, per Quinn.

Falcons Rumors: Maxwell, Thomas, Bryant

Earlier today, in our round-up of a few NFC South items, we passed along a couple of noteworthy Falcons-related tidbits — the team has yet to instigate negotiations on a contract extension for standout wide receiver Julio Jones, and new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan received a three-year deal when he was hired by the club. We’ve had a few more Falcons updates trickle in since then, so let’s check those out:

  • There’s “a lot of talk” that the Falcons will be a strong suitor for free agent cornerback Byron Maxwell, according to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports (via Twitter). As Garafolo points out, Maxwell played under new Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn in Seattle, so there’s a logical connection there. Seahawks GM John Schneider also indicated earlier today that he expects the cornerback to reach the open market.
  • The Falcons will likely be interested in Broncos tight end Julius Thomas, another prospective who looks poised to hit the open market, writes D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta has been looking for an upgrade at the position since Tony Gonzalez retired, but the club would likely have plenty of competition for Thomas, who will be the top tight end available this winter.
  • There have been some talks between the Falcons and kicker Matt Bryant, but no substantial progress has been made so far, tweets Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. The team will meet in Indianpolis with the agent for Bryant, who is eligible for free agency next month