Former Falcons kicker Matt Bryant thanked the fans and said he was more amazed than shocked by the team’s decision to let his contract expire, when appearing on the Dukes and Bell show on 92.9 The Game on Tuesday.
“When the announcement came down and I put it out there, the response that I got from everybody was, I guess maybe overwhelming,” Bryant said near the end of interview. “I’m very appreciative. You could almost say that my time here was justified from me going on the field and giving everything that I had. I felt that it was reciprocated by the fans that appreciated what I did.”
But the writing was on the wall when the Falcons decided to carry two kickers last season.
“Nothing was ever said to me in this direction,” Bryant said. “To be flat-out honest, I had a gut feeling that it could happen. But like I thought with my play on the field, it couldn’t happen. Does that make sense?
“Whenever it did come down ... was I caught off guard? Yes because of what I did on the field. But, you know, that’s how it goes sometimes I guess.”
Bryant, who will turn 44 in May, said he doesn’t plan to retire.
The Falcons can get cheaper at the position by keeping Giorgio Tavecchio, the injury replacement for Bryant last season who kicked field goals of 50 and 56 yards in the team’s 23-20 victory over the Giants.
The move, which will become official on March 13, creates $2.8 million in cap space for the Falcons. Bryant was set to make $2.45 million next season.
He wasn’t sure what to make of the team keeping Tavecchio.
“The way it was worded to me, I can’t remember when, I guess it ... they compared Tavecchio to (backup quarterback Matt) Schaub, you know (like) having a good backup quarterback kind of thing,” Bryant said. “So, him staying around as long as he did ... like I said, I had my gut feeling.
“But I still … my whole process was to go out on the field and do my thing. Let whatever happen ... there are opinions and there are outlooks, but you can’t argue with production.”
Some made a big deal out of Bryant missing a 53-yard field goal at Green Bay, which really was like a 63-yarder going into the 10-miles-per-hour wind. They kick should have never been attempted into the direct and swirling wind at that end of Lambeau Field.
Bryant was trying to hit a “low line drive,” but missed it.
The most memorable field goal in Bryant’s tenure with the Falcons might be the 49-yarder that gave the Falcons a 30-28 victory over Seattle in the divisional round of the 2012 playoffs. It was the Falcons’ first playoff win since 2004.
“As far as a kick goes, an individual kick, the one to beat Seattle in 2012,” Bryant said. “I’d probably just say, overall, like a year with the Super Bowl year, I had a good enough year to be voted to the Pro Bowl and to go the Super Bowl. I would say as my time here (with the) Falcons, those were two pretty good moments that stand out.”
Bryant’s 1,717 career points rank fifth among the NFL’s all-time active points leaders.
Bryant also has made 388 field goals over his career, fourth among the active field-goal leaders.
He also scored more than 100 points in a season 10 times – only 17 other players have accomplished that 10 or more times.
Some contend that Bryant will follow former special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong to Tampa Bay, where he kicked from 2005-2008.
“I’ve looked at all of the scenarios of the possibilities,” Bryant said. “The fact of it is though, unfortunately, right now, I can’t talk to anybody. It’s considered tampering.
Bryant didn’t sense the Falcons would be firing all of their coordinators after last season.
“When it comes to decisions like that, I didn’t see that coming,” Bryant said. “I didn’t see Keith (Armstrong) leaving ... in the locker room, to be honest with you I’m so focused on my job. I’m not paying attention to this conversation or that conversation.
“It wouldn’t be fair to me to give my opinion to be honest with you, I didn’t pay attention to those scenarios so I’m not a very good source on that.”
Bryant is certain about one thing, he wants to keep kicking.
“I want to go where I’m wanted,” Bryant said. “Where my services are valued to help that team do whatever it is. To say one team or another right now, I can’t do that.
“There are a lot of things that go into it, but would I like to get into the playoffs and get to another Super Bowl, most definitely.”
Bryant will not limit himself to kicking for a dome team.
“I have some things that stand out more than others, but at the end of the day, I think that you perform your best wherever you’re the most comfortable,” Bryant said. “Wherever there is a mutual feeling between the player and the people that you are employed by.”
Host Carl Dukes wanted to know Bryant’s emotional state of mind and asked, “Did this hurt bad?”
“Does this hurt bad?,” Bryant said.
“How did you take this? I’m just curious,” Dukes continued.
“Umm, it’s disappointing,” Bryant said. “There’s a little bit of, I don’t know if shock is the word, but I guess amazement. Part of it too is that I’ve been ... you know ... the last few years, like I’ve had to ... put it to you this way, it hasn’t been given to me.
“Even with what I’ve done previously, it was never said here ... whether if I earned it (by) things that I’ve done or sometimes I guess you can look at some people’s careers and say they’ve earned this, they’ve earned that. They get this or they get that.
“I’ve had to earn it, each moment. Each day here lately. But I’ve taken on those challenges and met them head on. Obviously, I’ve succeeded through them.”