Matt Bryant remains one of the great kickers in Atlanta Falcons history, and you can put forth a decent argument that he is the greatest ever. That's what made 2015 so jarring, and made so many wonder if Bryant would be sticking around.
Let's tackle last season and his status.
A Down Year
Bryant celebrated his 40th birthday in 2015, and I noted that historically just over a dozen kickers had lasted into their age-40 campaign, though that list grew with Bryant and Phil Dawson joining last year. Nothing seemed amiss for Bryant early, as he nailed his first six field goal tries, including a 47 yarder in Week 1.
Things went awry in Week 5 against Washington, when Bryant missed two out of his four tries, and again in Week 7 against the Titans when he missed one or two kicks. He righted the ship in Weeks 8 and 9, making all five of his tries, before he missed his only field goal attempt against Indianapolis. Bryant would go on to miss the rest of the year with injury.
It's fair to say injuries sapped his effectiveness in 2015, meaning we don't necessarily have to panic about Bryant just yet. It's also fair to say it was his worst year in Atlanta, and that he's not getting any younger.
Bryant is under contract the next two season, with a $2.995 cap hit (and just $666,667 in dead money) in 2016, and $2.833 million with $333,334 in dead money come 2017. It's readily apparent that he'll need to bounce back in a big way to stick around, because the Falcons can save $2-plus million by cutting ties with him.
The Falcons really can't afford to draft a kicker, and there aren't a ton of inspiring free agents out there, so Bryant's going to return to his job. If he struggles again this year for reasons that are due more to age and decline than injury, though, he may not last the year, given the money the Falcons would save and the lack of patience for kickers who miss field goals league-wide. My hope is that Bryant will return to form, and my gut says he'll be the Falcons' kicker all season long. But nothing's certain.