Matt Bryant

Mutual Interest Between Bucs, Matt Bryant

Before Matt Bryant‘s 10-year Falcons tenure, he established himself as a reliable NFL kicker during a four-year Tampa Bay stay.

Bryant is interested in returning to the Buccaneers, and the 17-year veteran’s former team is “definitely” interested in bringing Bryant back, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports.

The Falcons will not pick up Bryant’s option for 2019, sending him toward free agency. The Bucs cannot sign him until March 13, when his contract expires, since this is an option-based departure rather than an outright release. But after several years of issues at kicker, the Bucs may have a solution planned.

They are definitely an option,” Bryant said, via McClure. “I could definitely [see myself] going back there to play. Bucs special teams coach Keith [Armstrong] knows me, and I know him. We’ve worked together. There’s a strong familiarity. I mean, there are all kind of things that go into this.”

The Bucs hired Armstrong this offseason. He was the Falcons’ special teams coordinator from 2008-18.

Bryant, who kicked for the Bucs from 2005-08 and still has a house in Tampa, will turn 44 in May and missed three games due to injury last season. But he made 20 of his 21 field goal attempts, including four from beyond 50 yards. The 95.2 percent success rate was the best of his career.

The Bucs went through two kickers last season — Chandler Catanzaro and Cairo Santos, who combined to make 20 of 27 field goal tries — and used two more (Nick Folk and Patrick Murray) in 2017. Folk beat out Roberto Aguayo in training camp that year. Aguayo has not kicked in an NFL game since missing nine field goals as a rookie. The 2015 Bucs used two kickers as well, Connor Barth and Kyle Brindza. Bryant obviously has a much better track record than this group over the past several years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Rams, Singleton, Pats

There is a definite post-Super Bowl lull in the NFL world right now, and while we will soon be talking about free agent rumors and the April draft in earnest, today is not that day. But there is still professional football to watch if you’re interested, and there are a few NFL items of note to discuss, so let’s get to them:

  • Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic examines how the Rams might address some of their biggest needs this offseason. The club is projected to have about $41MM in salary cap space, and Bonsignore suggests that LA must find a dominant edge rusher to take some pressure off of Aaron Donald. Luckily, this year’s draft features quite a bit of pass rushing talent if the Rams choose to steer clear of the pricey free agent market for edge defenders.
  • Todd Gurley will obviously be back with the Rams, but given his history of knee problems, and the impact that his most recent knee injury had on the team’s playoff run, Bonsignore says LA will think long and hard about adding another back to share the load (we learned last week that the club is interested in bringing back C.J. Anderson). He also suggests that the Rams could bring back Ndamukong Suh on a two-year deal, and that Mark Barron could be a cap casualty.
  • The Bengals will hire Jemal Singleton as their running backs coach, per Jeremy Rauch of Fox 19 (via Twitter). Singleton previously served in the same capacity with the Colts from 2016-17 and with the Raiders in 2018.
  • Jenna Laine of ESPN.com examines a few free agents that the Buccaneers might consider, a list that includes safety Tyrann Mathieu — who of course has a history with new head coach Bruce Arians — and kicker Matt Bryant.
  • After the recent exodus of coaching talent, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com names a few Patriots coaching assistants who could be elevated to position-coach roles. Cole Popovich, Mike Pellegrino, DeMarcus Covington, and Brian Belichick could all be promoted in short order.
  • Pro Football Focus released its list of the top 10 players eligible for free agency in March and projected the contracts those players might land. Five of the top six players are edge rushers, including Jadeveon Clowney, the top player on the list, whom PFF expects to land a six-year, $135MM deal with $85MM in guarantees. Clowney, of course, is expected to be hit with the franchise tag, so if he gets a contract of that size this year, it will likely come from the Texans.

Falcons To Release Matt Bryant

The Falcons are parting ways with kicker Matt Bryant. The club informed him of his impending release, according to an announcement from Bryant on social media. 

“I was informed last night that the team was moving on from my services and that I would be released,” Bryant wrote. “I want to say thank you to all the fans that have stood with me and my family during our time here. I take great pride in my body of work on and off the field. I hope I have represented you well while I was here. It was an honor to be a part of some big moments in this franchise’s history. This chapter is now closed. I look forward to bringing the success and consistency that I’ve produced to my next team.”

Bryant has repeatedly said that he plans to play into his age-44 season. His age could work against him in free agency, but his 2018 season proved that he still has something left in the tank. Bryant connected on 20 of 21 field goals, including a 57-yarder, giving him a 95.2% completion percentage. He also sank 33 of 35 extra point tries.

Bryant signed a three-year, $10.5MM extension with Atlanta last offseason that would have carried him through the 2020 season. Under the old deal, he would have made $2.45MM base salary in ’19.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons K Matt Bryant To Return In 2019

It sounds like Matt Bryant is sticking around for at least another season. The veteran kicker announced on Twitter that he won’t be retiring this offseason.

“Over this past year I’ve been asked numerous times about retirement and how I feel,” Bryant wrote. “Well, I’m not retiring and I feel fine and plan on feeling even better with some changes to my offseason program!”

The 43-year-old just completed his 17th NFL season and his 10th-straight campaign with the Falcons. Bryant was actually incredibly efficient in 2018, converting a career-high 95.2-percent of his field goal attempts (20-of-21). He was also successful on 33 of his 35 extra point attempts.

Unfortunately, Bryant was limited to only 13 contests, the first time since 2015 that he hadn’t appeared in every game for Atlanta. The veteran battled a hamstring ailment throughout the season, and the “changes” to his offseason routine may be intended to remedy any reoccurring issues.

Bryant inked a three-year extension worth $10.5MM with the Falcons last offseason that would last through the 2020 season. The veteran is set to earn a $2.45MM base salary in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Rumors: Falcons, Buccaneers, Morgan

The Falcons will be looking for a new kicker for temporary purposes. Matt Bryant will miss Atlanta’s Week 7 Monday night game, Dan Quinn said. The longtime Falcons kicker is dealing with a strained hamstring, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, who adds Giorgio Tavecchio is among the names the Falcons are considering as a replacement. Tavecchio was briefly affiliated with the Falcons earlier this year, but Bryant’s kicked in all six Falcon games in his 10th season with the franchise. He hasn’t missed a game since he was limited to 11 appearances in 2015. Tavecchio will be among “a number of kickers” considered during the lead-up to the Falcons’ home Monday-nighter against the Giants.

Here’s the latest from the South divisions, continuing on the Atlanta injury front:

  • Another week of recovery will likely be required for Devonta Freeman, per McClure. The Falcons’ starting running back is has dealt with knee and foot trouble and now has a groin issue to overcome. Atlanta’s gotten by with Tevin Coleman and newcomer Ito Smith in the backfield.
  • Ali Marpet became the latest Buccaneers starter to sign a lucrative extension, joining Mike Evans and Cameron Brate in doing so this year. More re-ups could be on track. Kwon Alexander and the Bucs are still talking an extension, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. While Stroud writes it’s uncertain if the Bucs want to pay Alexander like a top-tier linebacker — they have Lavonte David on the books at $10MM per year — he’s on the radar. As is fourth-year left tackle Donovan Smith, who’s in a contract year. Despite rarely being viewed as a productive player by Pro Football Focus, Smith is well thought of among Bucs brass, per Stroud. Adam Humphries is another player the Bucs would like to retain, though they have a crowded receiver room. Chris Godwin‘s emerged as Tampa Bay’s No. 3 man and may be Evans’ top complement if DeSean Jackson ($10MM non-guaranteed salary in 2019) isn’t back next year. Humphries’ contract expires after this season.
  • Derrick Morgan will miss a few weeks because of a shoulder injury, Mike Vrabel said. A ninth-year player who dealt with a knee injury during the preseason, Morgan has played in all six Titans games this year and has only missed more than two games in a season once in the past eight years. Harold Landry will likely start opposite Brian Orakpo in the meantime.
  • Stationed on the Texans‘ PUP list, D’Onta Foreman can return to practice this week but probably won’t, per Bill O’Brien (via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, on Twitter). Foreman’s been out since late last season because of an Achilles’ tendon tear.
  • Braden Smith appears to have solidified himself as the Colts‘ right tackle. Indianapolis went through several players in hopes of identifying a candidate, but Frank Reich said Monday (via ESPN.com’s Mike Wells, on Twitter) this job will be Smith’s to lose. Smith’s started three games for the Colts this season.
  • Former Lions, Patriots and Bengals linebacker Marquis Flowers worked out for the Texans on Monday, Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com tweets. The Lions cut Flowers last week. He played in 16 games for the Bengals in 2015 and ’16 and suited up for all 19 of the Patriots’ games last year.

Falcons, K Matt Bryant Agree To Extension

Another potential free agent kicker is off the board. The Falcons and kicker Matt Bryant have agreed to a three-year extension, according to a team announcement.

Bryant’s new deal is worth $10.5MM and contains a $2MM signing bonus, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The pact also comes with an incentive package that could take the total value of the contract to $12MM. On an annual basis, Bryant is now the eighth-highest paid kicker in the NFL after receiving what amounts to a $670K yearly raise.

Bryant will turn 43 years old before the 2018 season starts, but he still looked sharp last season. In 2017, he nailed 87.2% of his field goals, good for 12th in the NFL. He also sank eight-of-nine attempts from 50 yards or more, so his power hasn’t deteriorated much.

Earlier this offseason, the Colts re-upped their own aging kicker in Adam Vinatieri, even though he turned 45 in December. The Titans also locked down a would-be free agent kicker in Ryan Succop when they inked him to a five-year, $20MM extension in February.

Panthers kicker Graham Gano might be the next big leg to sign a multi-year deal. Carolina is working on an extension with the 30-year-old (31 in April) and they’ll probably franchise tag him on Tuesday if no accord can be reached.

Bryant won’t make it to the open market, but other notable kickers will, including Sebastian Janikowski, Chandler Catanzaro, Caleb Sturgis, and Kai Forbath.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Begin Talks With Kicker Matt Bryant

The Falcons have initiated contract negotiations with pending free agent kicker Matt Bryant, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.Matt Bryant (vertical)

Bryant will turn 43 years old before the 2018 season gets underway, but like fellow aging placekicker Adam Vinatieri (who appears to be nearing his own new deal with the Colts), Bryant hasn’t shown any signs of age. Last year, Bryant converted 87.2% of his field goals — good for 12th in the NFL — and made eight-of-nine attempts from 50+ yards. The eight attempts from greater than 50 yards were an NFL high, and a sign that Bryant still offers a booming leg.

Bryant was perfect on extra point tries, as he made all 35 of his attempts on the year. He also fared well in Football Outsiders‘ advanced metrics, which rank kickers based on how their field goal attempts compare to the league-average conversion rate from the same distance. Bryant offered 6.4 points through field goals and extra points, which ranked ninth in the NFL.

Under the terms of a three-year extension he inked in 2015, Bryant had been collecting an annual salary of $2.833MM (12th among kickers). He figures to see a bump in pay due to his recent production, and could see his per year paycheck rise into the $3-3.5MM range.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Notes: Coleman, Ryan, Bryant

Over the summer, the Falcons locked up Devonta Freeman with a five-year extension worth more than $41MM. That’s a big chunk of change to dedicate to the running back position, but GM Thomas Dimitroff seems to think that there will be enough room to also keep Tevin Coleman in the fold after his contract expires next year (Twitter link via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com).

Coleman, a third-round pick in the 2015 draft, is slated to carry a cap number of just $978K in his final year under contract. The Falcons love having him as a complement to Freeman, but with a career average of 4.3 yards per carry, Coleman figures to attract starter money on the open market in 2019. If the Falcons are intent on keeping the tandem together, their best bet might be to extend Coleman in the coming weeks, before RBs like Isaiah Crowell, Carlos Hyde, Dion Lewis ink new contracts.

Here’s more from Atlanta:

  • No surprise here, but Dimitroff says a contract extension for Matt Ryan will be a top focus for the team as they look to create flexibility going forward (Twitter link via McClure). As it stands, the quarterback is signed through 2018 and is slated to carry a cap charge in excess of $21MM. Of course, re-upping the MVP of the 2016 season won’t be cheap. Ryan turned in another strong season in 2017, tying with Drew Brees as the second-best quarterback in the league, per Pro Football Focus, placing him behind only Tom Brady. He also eclipsed 4,000 passing yards for the seventh consecutive season, though his 4,095 total was his lowest since 2010.
  • Dimitroff says the team will talk to kicker Matt Bryant soon about a contract extension (Twitter link via McClure). Bryant will turn 43 in May, but it sounds like the kicker is intent on continuing his career. In 2017, Bryant connected on 34 of 39 field goal attempts (87.2%) and made all 35 of his extra point tries. Bryant was money from long distance, nailing 8 of 9 kicks from 50+ yards.
  • The Falcons have decided to stick with Steve Sarkisian as their offensive coordinator.

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.