Matt Gay Has Likely Kicked His Last Dagger For The LA Rams

Written By

on

matt gay

Happy Birthday Matt Gay! You are free to go.

The Los Angeles Rams have decided to not hit their young kicker with either the transition or franchise tag (yes, I don’t know the difference either) meaning he is free to sign with another team on March 15.

That’s right, Gay’s 29th birthday.

The move is another in what appears to be a series of cost-cutting measures by the Rams, who finished 5-12 last year. Last year Gay ranked 18th among kickers with a cap hit of $2.5 million.

This one hurts.

The Rams have already let linebacker Bobby Wagner walk, and Leonard Floyd and Allen Robinson II are on the trade market and who knows about Jalen Ramsey, but Gay was a serious contributor to the Rams Super Bowl title in 2022. With the Rams, Gay has made 92.5 percent of his field goals. How good is that? The legend, Justin Tucker, has made 90.5 in his career with the Ravens. Granted, Tucker’s career is longer.

Can I point out again that the Rams were 5-12? Cleaning house is a good thing. But great kickers are hard to find. They give a team, a coach and a fan base confidence. This may be a move that comes back to bite the Rams.

The Rams And The Salary Cap

This is a cost-cutting move by the Rams to ostensibly get under the salary cap.

I think my philosophy on this might be a little different than some. If the Rams really do decide to go full-on rebuild, with lots of young players in spots and an eye on contending again in 2025 or so, does that mean that they give fans a break on the tickets this year? Will the concession prices be lower? Premium beer at SoFi is $17 bucks.

Are Rams fans expected to pay full price for a team that’s decided to tank/not try to win?

Yeah.

If the Rams are under the cap, who gets that money? It’s not you or me.

The salary cap is a great construct by the NFL to maintain parity, but it doesn’t keep teams from doing what they want to do, it just keeps teams from doing everything they want. The Rams could sign Gay to a four-year $14 million deal that’s like a $7 million signing bonus and a cap hit of like $1.75 million a year. Why won’t they do that? NFL teams need to spend money to win. Fans deserve that.

Rant over.

Matt Gay Becomes a Ram

Gay was a fifth-round pick by the Bucs in 2019. This was pre-Brady. Bruce Arians was the coach. This was the year Jameis Winston threw 30 picks and the Bucs went 7-9.

Gay sealed his Bucs fate in Week 3, a 32-31 loss to the Giants, where he missed two field goals, one extra point and had another extra point blocked.

He finished 27-35 on field goals and missed five extra points. That’s bad. The Bucs said see ya and signed Ryan Succop.

Gay went to the Colts and was on their practice squad in 2020 when the Rams used Kai Forbath (out of the NFL) and the forgettable Sam Sloman (out of the NFL) to kick. It wasn’t good. Gay came over to Los Angeles and went 14-16 late in the season and made every extra point.

The Playoff Hero

You could make the case, and I’m not saying he should win, but you can make the case that Matt Gay is the Rams playoff MVP two years ago.

After a season where he went 32-34 on field goals and missed just one extra point, Gay went 8-10 in the playoffs. He made the game-winning field goal in the win over the Bucs in the divisional round (that had to feel sweet) and made two field goals in the fourth quarter in the NFC Championship game, including a 30-yarder with 1:46 left. Rams win by three.

In the Super Bowl, it gets forgotten because of what happened at the end, but Gay made a 41-yard field goal with 5:58 to play to make it 20-16. The Rams did win the game by three points.

This season, Gay was good, the team was bad. He didn’t miss a kick inside the 50 and went 31-32 on extra points.

What’s a Kicker Worth?

Tucker is considered the premier kicker in the NFL and his salary is just under $6 million. Jake Elliott of the Eagles makes right around that as well.

Had the Rams put a franchise tag on Gay, he would have been guaranteed the average salary of the top five players at his position (that’s what that means) so right around $5.4 million. That seems too steep a price to pay.

What Will The Market Be?

There are lots of teams out there who could use a kicker like Matt Gay. Remember in the NFL now, kickers are expected to make about 90 percent of their kicks.

The Colts, who play inside a Dome remember, used Chase McLaughlin and he went 30-36 last season. Brandon McManus may be done in Denver. He was 28-36 last season, that’s 77.8 percent. Horrible. Kickers love to play in Denver with the altitude (kicks go farther).

Former Rams legend Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein may be done. He was 30-37 for the Jets last season and Joey Slye was 25-30 on field goals and missed four extra points for Washington last year. Four extra points!

Gay will likely find a new home in 2023 from a team willing to pay him. Happy Birthday Matt, Ram fans won’t forget you.