We’re now at the end of our roster review, and this is the part where you may start to tune out because we’re talking about special teams.
Take heart, though: While there’s no real roster battle to speak of, the Falcons legitimately have a young kicker who could be worth keeping around for the post-Matt Bryant days, whenever those days may come. Thankfully, they’re probably not coming in 2017, given that Bryant is still ridiculously productive.
Starter: “$$$$” Matt Bryant
The man, the myth, the legend. Bryant came aboard way back in 2009 to replace Jason Elam, who had fallen apart in pretty spectacular fashion at the age of 39, and he has been the team’s kicker ever since. Bryant went from being pretty good early on to elite in his last few seasons, becoming that rare player who appears to get better in the twilight of his career.
After an injury-marred, shaky 2015, Bryant was back to his old self in 2016, kicking at an extremely high level once again. Having successfully hurdled the 40 year wall that some many players can’t get past, there’s no particular reason to think he’ll slow down.
Most of you felt pretty strongly that Matt Bryant could keep kicking at a high level for at least a couple of years, which I think is a fair take after he’s made it to 42 playing so insanely well. The Falcons would only save about $1.7 million if they cut him and his contract is already up after this season, so I’d say with some confidence that he’s safe for this season, and should continue to build on his record-breaking career with Atlanta.
The other guy: Mike Meyer
Out of all the challengers Bryant has faced over the years—none of them serious, save Shayne Graham—Meyer might have the best shot of actually hanging around. I’m not suggesting he’ll unseat Bryant in 2017, as that seems exceedingly unlikely, but he might be the rare kicker that hangs on to a practice squad spot and contends for the job a year from now.
Meyer was a productive kicker at Iowa, hitting 141 of 143 PATs and 76.3% of his field goals, an underwhelming percentage that is nevertheless in line with plenty of kickers who have made it to the NFL. He also has a pretty strong leg and handled kickoff duties, something he wouldn’t need to do in Atlanta with Matt Bosher around. The Tennessee Titans liked Meyer enough to keep him on their practice squad until the Falcons poached him back in January and signed him to a futures contract.
Let’s put the chances of him actually unseating Bryant at less than 10%, but I would not be surprised to see him making the initial 10 man practice squad.
For now, thankfully, this contending team should have one of the steadiest legs in the NFL to depend on.