The Atlanta Falcons decision to move on from kicker Matt Bryant was an unpopular move. Even though the move stirred fan’s emotions, Atlanta made the correct business decision.
Every franchise has players that endure themselves to the fan base. Such players become almost superheros and are irreplaceable in the fans eyes. It’s rare when a kicker is one of those players for a football team, yet this was the case with Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant.
Even though it’s rare for a kicker to become a fan favorite, it was well deserved for Matt Bryant. He has been a rock of consistency for the Atlanta Falcons franchise. He made 88.7 percent of his field goals and 98.2 percent of his extra point attempts in his ten-year Atlanta career. This accuracy earned him the nickname “Money” Matt.
Matt Bryant was the first team All Pro kicker in 2014 and second team All Pro in 2016 by Pro Football Focus. He was also named to the Pro Bowl in 2016. He’s a multiple time team winner, of the Walter Peyton Man of the Year Award, and the Atlanta Falcons All Time leading scorer.
For his career, Matt Bryant is the seventh most accurate kicker in NFL History. Letting such an accomplished player go is certainly not an easy decision, yet it was a decision the Atlanta Falcons had to make.
Matt Bryant tweeted his departure and thanks to the Atlanta Falcons fans in this tweet:
The Atlanta Falcons are working with a tight salary cap budget. They have a major contract extension kicking in for quarterback Matt Ryan this season. They also must resign free agent defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, who’s stellar play has earned him the right to a huge pay raise.
There is also the fact that star wide receiver Julio Jones, also desires a new contact. Contract extensions also loom for young defensive stars, particularly linebacker Deion Jones and strong safety Keanu Neal. Not to mention the fact that the Falcons must rebuild the offensive and defensive lines.
Having all of those financial obligations in the near future, Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff could no longer afford the luxury of spending three million dollars on a kicker. Not even a top-notch kicker like Matt Bryant.
The fact that Matt Bryant will be 44 years old next season, also likely played a part in the Atlanta Falcons’ decision to move on. Injuries also are a concern, as Matt Bryant missed three games last season. He injured his hamstring while making a 57 yard field goal.
During Matt Bryant’s injury absence, Giorgio Tavecchio stepped in and did yeoman’s work. The 28-year-old kicker our of the University of California was perfect in his three game stint with Atlanta, making all five field goals and all eight extra points attempted.
Gio Tavecchio is still on the Atlanta Falcons roster and is set to make 650,000 next season. So he certainly gives Atlanta the salary cap relief they seek at the position. Gio also has experience as the Oakland Raiders starting kicker during the 2017 season.
Matt Bryant is very appreciated for his accomplishments here in Atlanta. He will certainly be missed in the brotherhood. His game winning field goal against another former team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was a fitting end to his Atlanta Falcons tenure.
Replacing “Money” Matt Bryant with Gio Tavecchio is certainly a risk, but it was a risk the Atlanta Falcons had to take. Let’s just hope Tavecchio can continue with the excellent kicking he displayed last season.