With only hours remaining before the deadline to extend offers to Restricted Free Agents, it has been reported that the Los Angeles Rams have put an original-round tender on kicker Matt Gay. The contract tender carries a value of $2.54 million for 2022.
Gay now has until April 22nd to negotiate with any other NFL teams and sign an offer sheet. If he signs another teams offer sheet, the Rams have the option to match that offer or receive compensation equal to his original draft round. The kicker was drafted in round five, at #145 of the 2019 NFL Draft.
The #Rams are giving kicker Matt Gay the original-round RFA tender worth $2.54 million, per source. So the compensation for any team signing him to an offer sheet would be a fifth-round pick.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 16, 2022
Gay was a must-sign and this essentially ties him to L.A.. Yes, he can receive as many offers as he can but the Rams hold the last right of refusal and can match any offer to keep him. Top kickers in the NFL earn up to $5 mil per year, so if LA can keep him under that price, it would be money well spent. $2.54 mil is a bargain.
Bringing back Matt Gay would prevent a gaping hole from forming in the Rams special teams. Johnny Hekker is reportedly being cut in a money saving move and kick returner Brandon Powell is currently not on the roster. Rebuilding the the core of the kicking game around second-year long snapper Matt Orzech would be a monumental task.
During the Super Bowl winning 2021 season, Gay was stellar. He made 32 of 34 field goals and 48 0f 49 PAT’s. 80 percent of his kickoffs were touchbacks. In the Rams Super Bowl win over the Cincinnati Bengals, he converted two PAT’s, one FG and zero kick return yards. He was rewarded for his season by being named to the Pro Bowl.
The Road to Los Angeles
The University of Utah kicker was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and opened the season as their placekicker. He struggled in his rookie year missing five PAT’s and only making 77.1 percent of field goals. He was released in 2020 final cuts and hooked up on Indianapolis Colts practice squad.
In November 2020, the Rams poached Gay off the Colts practice squad. It had been a tumultuous season for LA kickers. Sam Sloman beat out Austin McGinnis and Lirim Hajrullahu to replace long time kicker Greg Zuerlein, who had left the team in free agency. Sloman struggled and after week seven was replaced by veteran Kai Forbath, who lasted two weeks until the Rams acquired Gay.
Adding Gay solidified the LA kicking game. He converted 14 of 16 field goals, 100 percent of PAT’s, and kicked through the end zone at an 80 percent clip. His biggest kick off the season was a game-winning field goal late in the fourth quarter to beat his former Tampa Bay teammates.
Should the Rams extend Matt Gay?
I get it. The tender deadline was looming and LA needed to make sure that Gay didn’t slip through the cracks, but Gay needs to be locked up with an extension. Rams fans are used to a solid kicking game and the period of time between losing Greg Zuerlein and adding Gay was misery.