orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

College/Pro Sports

September 9, 2009

Tampa Bay bubble curiously bursts for Bryant

Matt Bryant sensed he was on the chopping block last spring. But that didn’t make Saturday’s announcement saying the Bridge City ex had been cut by Tampa Bay any easier to swallow. Especially since the Bucs threw him on the scrap heap following his must successful year in the NFL, a year in which he’d solidified himself as one of the game’s best, most accurate field goal kickers.

Though he’s bitter about the way he was treated, and is careful about what he says since there may be legal ramifications, Bryant knows all too well the latest hand he’s been dealt isn’t a life or death matter. Putting things in perspective gets a lot easier when you’ve buried a three-month old son.

“It’s unfortunate, it’s sad and it’s mind boggling to me and a lot of others,” he said Tuesday from Tampa. “But it’s certainly not the end of the world. I’ve been through much worse. I have to believe there’s something better out there for me. I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”

The next chapter almost certainly will involve signing with another NFL team that’s either unhappy with its current kicker, or one that recognizes Bryant is clearly an upgrade. Don’t be surprised if it’s the Miami Dolphins, since the Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland was Baylor’s kicker before Bryant arrived in Waco for the 2000 season.

No matter what happens going forward, however, Bryant will always wonder about the chain of events that led Tampa Bay to start pushing one of its most popular, successful and civic-minded players out the door.

In 2008, his fourth season with the Bucs, Matt kicked the second most field goals in the NFL (32) en route to scoring a career high 131 points. Included were three game-winning kicks and an .842 field goal percentage that ranked as the fifth-best single season mark in team history.

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