Just For Kicks

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The life of an NFL kicker can be described as nomadic. Even when you have job security, you really don’t. NFL teams are like that loser you knew back in high school who would break up with their girl the week before Christmas to avoid having to buy her a gift. Getting into the NFL kicking club is the hard part, but once you’re in, teams will round robin you every year or so to emphasize how unimportant they think you are but plead the fifth should you miss a crucial FG or PAT. I just love listening to the former players who are now expert NFL channel analysts who swear up and down how kickers are useless and then look like total fools when they have kicking contests at the NFL experience during Super Bowl week. Yeah, no skills needed to be a kicker. NOT.

Since cutting Matt Bryant in 2008 the Buccaneers have averaged a kicker every season. Holding this position at various times have been Shane Andrus, Mike Nugent, Connor Barth, Rian Lindell, Patrick Murray, Roberto Aguayo, Nick Folk, Chandler Catanzaro and Cairo Santos. This turnover rate is extreme, even by NFL standards. What’s even more perplexing is the brilliance of failure the team has seen from this position in the past decade. There have been games where three (3) missed field goals resulted in a loss by five (5) points. Two (2) missed PAT’s has meant the team lost by one (1). There were games where the team would march down the field from the open, score a TD, then miss an elementary PAT and never regain composure, as if the sheer befuddlement of missing a single extra point would be cause for total team failure. There were kickers that hook the ball suddenly, kicking it straight. There have been kickers who boot it straight, suddenly hooking the ball terribly. The one common denominator—all suddenly can’t make easy kicks that have hurt the team greatly.

This brings me to free agent Matt Bryant. Buccaneer fans have been admiring his excellence for the last decade as he has performed marvelously for the Atlanta Falcons. Never been a Bryant hater, the Bucs made a calculated risk and have been on the wrong end of that mathematical equation for too long.

Cairo Santos came in last year and signed a $790,000 contract for one (1) year. He is currently a free agent. In seven (7) games last season Santos was 5-6, the lone miss being between 40-49 yards. He never attempted one from 50+. He was 5-6 on PAT’s for an 83.3% average.

Bryant was 7 for 7 from 40-49 yards and 4 for 5 from 50+. His 95.2 % field goal average was still among the best in the league. Going 33 for 35 on PAT’s for a 94.3 % average was also very good. Truth is, while detractors make mention of Bryant’s age at 43, he is still hitting the same excellent numbers he has his entire career. With Santos’ contract up and Bryant a free agent, something has got to give. If it were up to Buccaneer fans, that give would be to Matt Bryant. It just feels like it is time to bring this nomad home.

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