It’s the end of an era, and now this era’s got a sadder ending than any of us would have liked. The Falcons have cut kicker Matt Bryant, a league source told The Falcoholic’s Evan Birchfield.
The team confirmed Birchfield’s report Tuesday afternoon with the corresponding news that they have agreed to terms with Younghoe Koo to be Bryant’s replacement.
Bryant initially signed with the Falcons in 2009 after four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was one of the most reliable kickers in Falcons history, and we got to watch him lock up many a win on the strength and accuracy of his leg.
He more than earned the nickname “Money Matt.” Bryant was finally named to the Pro Bowl following a 2016 season that saw him convert 91.9 percent of his 37 field goal attempts and 98.2 percent of his 57 PAT attempts.
Bryant missed three games due to injury in 2018, and backup Giorgio Tavecchio performed well enough that the team retained him and moved on from Bryant after the season. That turned into a complete catastrophe. Tavecchio was bad, Blair Walsh landed in Atlanta but wasn’t any better than Tavecchio, and after icing Bryant out of the entire offseason program and training camp, the team brought him back. It’s gone poorly.
This season, Bryant has missed five of 14 field goal attempts for a conversion percentage of 64.3 — a career low. Atlanta brought in Elliott Fry and Younghoe Koo for workouts on Monday after Bryant missed two of four field goal attempts in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks.
This is not the way anyone wanted to see Bryant’s time in Atlanta end, especially Bryant. He was visibly distraught after some of his misses this season.
While this season didn’t go as expected, there’s no denying the impact Bryant had on this Falcons team over the years. Personally, I would have preferred for the team to keep Bryant on the roster in the first place — particularly since they ended up paying him more than they would have been on the hook for had they just kept him in the first place — to compete with Tavecchio. I think the team-organized training and practice regimen would have been beneficial for Bryant, and the competition may have helped both Bryant and Taveccio get their minds and legs right for the season.
Instead, we’re saying goodbye to an absolute legend and a perennial fan favorite. Thank you for everything, Money Matt. We wish you all the best in whatever’s next.
Evan Birchfield provided additional reporting for this story.