When the Atlanta Falcons signed Matt Bryant in December of the 2009 season, to replace the struggling Jason Elam, few would have thought that he would spend the next decade becoming the greatest kicker in team history.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released Bryant about a week before the start of that 2009 season, and have regretted it ever since. Their questionable decision, however, became Atlanta’s monumental gain.
Bryant has done everything the team could have asked for out of a free agent signing, providing consist elite-level value at his position for years. His accuracy is still as good as it’s ever been, and his power never declined despite his advanced age (remember the 57-yard FG he hit to seal the game against Tampa Bay, earlier this year).
Bryant’s resume is unmatched by any other kicker in Atlanta history. He’s the team’s all-time leader in points scored with 1122. Bryant has also hit the most extra points and field goals as a Falcon. Another kicker the Falcons once signed in free agency, Morten Andersen, is a distant second in all of these categories.
In his 141 regular season games suiting up in the red and black, Matt Bryant has converted 372/375 extra points (99.2%) and 250/282 total field goals (88.7%). He was also an impressive 36/46 (78.2%) on field goal attempts from 50+ yards out.
The Baylor alum also proved to be clutch come playoff time — converting 37/38 of his total kicks for the Falcons in the postseason (97.3%). Bryant seemingly always came through in any high-pressured kicking situation, and his game-winning 49-yard field goal against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2012 divisional round of the playoffs will forever rest in Falcon lore.
A relatively obscure December signing at the time, Matt Bryant stands shoulder to shoulder with the greatest free agent signings in team history; even if his signing was one of the more unconventional ones.
If the team ever decides to put a kicker in the ring of honor, then it’ll be Matt Bryant’s picture that’ll rest in the rafters of Mercedes-Benz Stadium — the house that he helped build.