The Falcons tried to replace Bryant, but his anointed successor Giorgio Tavecchio was not up to the task in the exhibition season. The Falcons remained in contact and coach Dan Quinn started texting Bryant in early August.
Bryant worked out for the Falcons on Friday and agreed to terms on a one-year, $3 million deal with the team Saturday.
“I would be lying to say I wasn’t upset,” Bryant said about getting cut in the first place. “Whether it was here or when I was released in Tampa, I’m not going to try to say it didn’t (hurt). But there have been guys that were a whole lot better than me at different positions that have gotten cut as well, so …that’s in the past.”
Bryant is ready to move on.
“It was tough,” Bryant said. “For 17 years, my life has been on a piece of paper about where I’m supposed to be and at what time I’m supposed to be there and how long I am supposed to be there.”
He had problems adjusting to life outside of a NFL locker room.
“Like all of sudden, I’m walking around my house and I’m like, I should be somewhere, but I’ll just go sit down in the chair and watch TV,” Bryant said. “It was different. Was it frustrating? Yes, very frustrating to watch some of the stuff that I’ve seen on TV. But that’s part of it. The main thing is that I’m ready to go for this team, this year and I’ll do the best that I can.”
Bryant made 20 of 21 field-goal attempts last season.
The Falcons never gave a plausible reason for wanting to get rid of Bryant and wouldn’t acknowledge that it was a cost-cutting measure. Tavecchio was set to make merely $645,000.
But after Tavecchio missed 5 of 9 field-goal attempts in the exhibition season, the humbled Falcons called Bryant.
“Matt Bryant with the workout heard around the world,” Quinn quipped. “He did fine with that obviously, and we signed him. It’s a good lesson in doing things the right way. All of us are pumped to have him back. He’s such a classy guy and classy competitor.”
Bryant’s workout started with a 33-yard extra-point kick and went back to a field-goal from 57 yards out.
“He looked good,” Quinn said. “He looked strong and he looked healthy. That’s part of why you had to do the physical.”
Quinn is ready to move on with his 44-year-old clutch kicker.
“Good lesson on like, don’t dig your heels in, especially with someone who’s wanting to be here and we want them here,” Quinn said. “The two sides can work that out.”
Quinn tried to keep an open line of communication with Bryant. His agent had been contacted by five teams, but he was more of an emergency option.
“On Military Day (Aug. 4), I texted to him because I’ve been all over the world with him to military bases from Guam to Hawaii, Kuwait and Iraq,” Quinn said. “I wanted to let him know what a big day it was back in August. I knew that he was putting in work and wanting to play.”
When Tavecchio continued to struggle, the Falcons made the call. A missed 39-yarder against Washington in the fourth exhibition game Aug. 22 was the last straw. The Falcons had in three kickers for a workout before signing Blair Walsh on Aug. 25.
But Walsh was shaky in practice and didn’t calm the fears of the Falcons’ brain trust.
“I came in and did my kicks,” Bryant said. “Here we are.”
In 10 seasons with the Falcons, Bryant made 250 of 282 field-goal attempts. Over his 17-year career, Bryant has made 388 of 450 field-goal attempts.
Bryant has addressed his workout regimen to help with the hamstring issues that caused him to miss some time last season and led to the team carrying two kickers.
“I just have to hold back on a few things, take it a little easier,” Bryant said. “Just understand that it’s not to be pushed too, too hard. There are certain exercises that don’t do things to my body that I don’t need it to do. Just understanding that there are some things to stay away from.
“I did more stretching. It’s on me. I feel pretty good. Even now after working out, my normal kicking sessions, I feel pretty good the day after.”