The Falcons are making some tough decisions this year to preserve cap space and carve out playing time for younger players, with Taylor Gabriel, Dontari Poe, Derrick Shelby, Levine Toilolo, and possibly Adrian Clayborn headed out the door. Even so, they could ill-afford to lose Matt Bryant, which is why it’s a major relief that the longtime Falcons kicker has re-signed with the team before free agency opens next week.
The contract’s terms won’t be known right away, but the three year pact makes sense for both sides.
Bryant, who will be 43 in May, hit 87.2% of his field goals and every one of his 35 extra point attempts in 2017, and was perfect on both field goals and extra points in the postseason. His range has not waned as he’s gotten older, and neither has his accuracy, as he’s had just once season under 85% on field goals since he joined Atlanta. That reliability would have made him a hot commodity for kicker-starved teams if he had made it to free agency, and the team would have been left looking at free agent castoffs and/or unproven young kickers had they let Bryant escape. Considering this team has title aspirations, they really couldn’t afford to do that, even if the proximity to the start of free agency was starting to make me a little bit nervous here.
We’ve said this before, but Bryant has already defied the odds, and betting on him to suddenly decline has become a fool’s errand. He’s captured nearly every franchise record during his time in Atlanta, which began partway through the 2009 season, and now has the most field goals, best field goal percentage, longest field goal, and most points in Falcons history. All he’s doing now is burnishing his legacy as the best kicker in Atlanta’s history and one of the better ones in NFL history, and seeking that elusive ring.
So we’ll hope that Bryant can continue to kick at a high level through the life of this new contract, and that he and the Falcons will get a Lombardi before he hangs up his cleats.