Over the past year, Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant was asked numerous times if this was it, if his long NFL career was over, and if it was time for him to hang up his cleats for good and retire. Many thought it would be, considering he will turn 44 years old in May, but he squashed all of those rumors with a simple tweet late Tuesday night.
“I’m not retiring and I feel fine and plan on feeling even better with some changes to my offseason program,” he posted on social media.
Then, just a few hours after announcing his return for his 18th NFL season, he got the call. The Atlanta Falcons cut Matt Bryant in favor of 28-year-old Giorgio Tavecchio.
Life can be cruel and the NFL is a business, especially when it comes to kicker, but this is downright disgusting and mean. The Falcons are moving away from one of the most trusted legs in the game, the player they relied on for nearly a decade, in favor of a younger player and to save just $2.8 million in cap space.
Sure, “Money Matt” Bryant missed some games battling a lingering hamstring injury in 2018, but he still buried 20 of 21 field goals and 33 of 35 extra points. It’s not like he had fallen off or that Tavecchio, who made all five of his field goal attempts and all eight extra point tries this past season in Bryant’s absence.
“I was informed last night that the team was moving on from my services and that I would be released. I want to say think you to all the fans that have stood with me and my family during our time here. I take great pride in my body of work on and off the field. I hope I have represented you well while I was here. It was an honor to be apart of some big moments in this franchise’s history. This chapter is now closed. I look forward to bringing the success and consistency that I’ve produced to my next team.”
— NFL kicker Matt Bryant
This news is definitely surprising. Despite his age, Bryant, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, still had two years remaining on his contract. The journeyman from Bridge City, Texas, who played his college ball for the Baylor Bears, could have rode off in the sunset when it was over and everyone would have remembered him for being one of the most consistent kickers this century.
Instead, the player who has suited up for the New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Falcons will now have to finish his career somewhere else.
At the end of the day, it is a business decision, but it’s a shame Matt Bryant, a man who totally embraced the Atlanta community and fan base, will not get a chance to finish his career there.