Free agency is just around the corner, and some key kickers will be on the move. The Falcons are parting ways with Matt Bryant. The Patriots might not be far behind with Stephen Gostkowski.
Bryant missed only one field goal last year (along with 2 extra points) but he’ll be 44 in May. The Falcons are figuring it’s time to make the switch to a younger, cheaper player at the position. They didn’t have any dropoff when Bryant missed three games with a hamstring injury – Giorgio Tavecchio went 5 for 5 on field goals, including a 56-yarder.
Bryant says he intends to keep playing, and a return to Tampa Bay is logical. The Bucs have been plagued by kicking woes for years and they just hired Keith Armstrong, who was the special teams coach for Bryant in Atlanta the last nine seasons.
The Patriots, meanwhile, will have to figure out if they want to bring Gostkowski back. He was the league’s highest-paid kicker last year (completing a four-year contract worth $17.2 million) but didn’t play anywhere close to that level, converting a below-average 84 percent of his field goals. He also converted 84 percent in field goals in 2016. He’s hit on over 92 percent in each of his last four other seasons, which is more in line with expectations for that kind of contract.
The Patriots willing to move on from Adam Vinatieri when the price tag got too high. They might go the same route with Gostkowski, but it will be dictated in part by how much he’s looking for. If he’s willing to be only a top-5 paid kicker, they’d probably be willing to bring him back. If he’s settling for more of a top-8 or top-10 contract, then he’ll be back for sure.
With Gostkowski having slumped recently, there won’t necessarily be another team out there willing to give him a big contract. Robbie Gould should also be a free agent, and he’s been a better kicker recently. Gould is one year older, but I would think more teams will be interested in him.
Over the past three years, both Gould and Bryant have been more accurate on field goals than Gostkowski.
|FIELD GOAL ACCURACY (2016-18)|