The Falcons have one of the best kickers in football in Matt Bryant, a fact that I think is more or less indisputable. Were it not for Adam Vinatieri, Bryant would probably be considered the leading NFL miracle at the kicker position, given both his effectiveness and age.
But Bryant is going to miss this first preseason game, handing duties over to former Wofford and Georgia kicker David Marvin, which is a small but stark reminder that Bryant is 43 years old. He takes care of himself and he’s one of the toughest dudes you’ll ever encounter, but even for the greats, there are no guarantees after age 40.
All of that preamble serves to introduce Giorgio Tavecchio. The former Raiders kicker had a so-so 2017 that saw him convert 76% of his field goals and all but one of his extra points, which wasn’t enough to keep him around under new coach Jon Gruden. It might be enough to earn him a look from the Falcons, however.
In all likelihood, Tavecchio would be little more than a preseason signing if Marvin doesn’t kick ass on Friday night against the Jets. Marvin is an unproven UDFA, after all, and nothing we’ve seen so far suggests that Bryant is going to miss any significant time. The Falcons have still shown a smart interest in recent years in keeping a few veteran kickers on speed dial just in case, as Bryant has missed some time in between nailing kicks in pressure-packed situations.
Tavecchio isn’t a particularly inspiring option—the strong-legged Marvin probably deserves a longer look, as he’s younger and certainly practice squad eligible—but this is a reminder that the Falcons are going to take nothing for granted this year, not even Matt Bryant’s health. With the guaranteed portion of Bryant’s contract already paid out and the team hellbent on turning one of their great rosters into (at minimum) a deep playoff run, there’s a small but non-zero chance that having Tavecchio in now and possibly even signing him for a summer audition might pay dividends down the line.
Hopefully, though, it’s yet another year of Matt Bryant excellence. I don’t want to go back to worrying about the kicker position again.