Falcons fans received some sad news today when it was announced that Atlanta would be moving on from legendary kicker Matt Bryant. It’s a move that had been foreshadowed for awhile, but it was still difficult to swallow considering that Bryant had been a stalwart on the team for an entire decade. Bryant will be dearly missed, but the show must go on for the Falcons. That leads us to the question of who will be taking over for Bryant in 2019, and that player is more than likely already on the roster.
Atlanta signed ex-Raiders kicker Giorgio Tavecchio in Week 7 of the 2018 season to fill in for an injured Matt Bryant. Tavecchio acquitted himself well in limited action, going 5/5 in FG attempts and hitting all eight of his XP attempts over three games with the Falcons. Perhaps most famously, Tavecchio hit a 56-yard FG on Monday Night Football against the Giants that gave the Falcons an 11-point lead. Atlanta ended up winning that game 23-20.
Tavecchio was born in Milan, Italy, making him one of the only Italian football players in the NFL and earning him the nickname of “Italian Ice” among fans. He got his first NFL opportunity with the Oakland Raiders in 2017, where he started all 16 games. Unfortunately, Tavecchio had a rather uninspiring rookie season, finishing 16/21 in FG attempts (76.2%) and 33/34 in XPs (97.1%). That caused the Raiders to part ways with him once Jon Gruden arrived, and Tavecchio became a free agent just before the end of the 2018 preseason.
The Falcons first signed Tavecchio for the fourth preseason game, but didn’t end up keeping him on the 53-man roster after Bryant recovered from his preseason injury. Bryant ended up aggravating that injury prior to Week 7, which meant the Falcons needed to find a replacement kicker. Curiously, Atlanta ended up giving Tavecchio a 2-year contract at that time.
That 2-year deal ended up being a harbinger of what was to come with Matt Bryant. Tavecchio kicked very well for the Falcons in limited action, and the team clearly felt confident enough in him to be able to move on from Bryant. Financially, the move makes some sense: the team saves $2.8M by cutting Bryant, and Tavecchio only costs $645K in 2019. The deal also gives the Falcons control of Tavecchio in 2020, where he will become an RFA.
It’s always sad to see a franchise great depart, but hopefully this will be the beginning of a nice career for the next Falcons kicker. What are your thoughts on Giorgio Tavecchio taking over kicking duties in 2019? Are you reasonably confident in his abilities, or do you think the Falcons will be looking for other options in free agency and the draft?