In his three NFL seasons, Matt Bryant has connected on 40 of his 50 field goal tries for an 80.0% success rate
Jay Taylor and Todd France have some new competition.
On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced the signing of veteran kicker Matt Bryant. The former New York Giant joins Taylor and France in what should be an intriguing competition to claim the Bucs' placekicking job, which was held by Martin Gramatica from 1999 through the first three months of the 2004 season.
Bryant is the most experienced of the three, having held the Giants' kicking job in 2002 and 2003. Bryant also kicked a total of four games in 2004, filling in for injured kickers Mike Vanderjagt and Olindo Mare in Indianapolis and Miami, respectively.
Bryant owns an outstanding career success rate of 80.0% on field goal tries, having connected on 40 of 50 attempts overall. He is 9-12 in his career from 40 yards or further and 59-61 on extra point attempts.
Though Bryant's signing came on the first day of the NFL's 2005 free agency period it is basically unrelated to the beginning of the open market. Since he was not with a team at the end of the 2004 season, Bryant could sign with any team. Players who were under contract in 2004 but in the last years of their deals became free agents on Wednesday.
Taylor handled the Bucs' kicking chores for the remainder of the season after the Bucs released Gramatica on November 30. He hit on four of five field goal tries (including a 50-yarder on his first attempt) and all 11 extra point attempts. Taylor had not kicked in the NFL before the Bucs signed him. France, who was signed by the Buccaneers on January 14, has been in several camps with Minnesota and the Giants but has also not kicked in a regular-season game.
Bryant first made it into the league in 2002 as somewhat of a long shot himself. After a brief stint with an Arena League team in 1999-2000, he was out of football until 2002, when the Giants signed him and allocated him to NFL Europe. However, he didn't kick in Europe as he battled a hamstring injury. Bryant did return to compete for the job in camp with the Giants that summer, but was eventually waived in late August as the job went to rookie Owen Pochman. When Pochman landed on injured reserve a few days later, Bryant was recalled and went on to have an outstanding season.
Bryant led the Giants in scoring in 2002 with 108 points, nailing 26 of 32 field goal tries and 30 PATs in 32 attempts. He was twice named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week, the first Giant to pull off that feat in a single season since 1996.
Bryant appeared in 11 games for the Giants in 2003, missing five with a hamstring ailment. He still led the team in scoring, recording 50 points on 11-of-14 field goal work and 17-of-17 extra point success.
In 2004, the Giants gave the kicking job to long-time veteran (and former Buccaneer) Steve Christie. Bryant still made several appearances in the league, beginning with the Colts in Week Five. After filling in for Vanderjagt and going 0-1 on field goals and 5-5 on extra points, Bryant jumped to the Dolphins in Week Six and held that job for three weeks while Mare was out. With Miami, Bryant made all three of his field goal tries and all seven of his extra point attempts. Overall in 2004, Bryant scored 21 points on 3-4 field goal kicking and 12-12 extra point work.
In two years at Baylor, Bryant scored 105 points on 21 field goals and 42 extra points. He hails from Bridge City, Texas.