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NFL franchise tag deadline: Rams choose to not tag Matt Gay

Gay was one of the top kickers in the NFL last season

Denver Broncos v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

There was not much buzz about the Los Angeles Rams using the franchise tag this year, and Les Snead rarely does anyway, but if there was one to choose it was kicker Matt Gay. It turns out that Snead and Sean McVay will not enact their ability to guarantee Gay’s services for 2023 and it’s looking like the Pro Bowl kicker will hit free agency next week.

Hopefully this is not a repeat of the Rams’ 2020 disaster experiment at kicker when Greg Zuerlein left in free agency.

Gay went 28-of-30 on field goals in 2022, plus 31-of-32 on extra points. He was 7-of-9 at 50+, a remarkable stretch for a kicker who was nearly out of the NFL in 2020.

That was the year that McVay chose to have a three-way competition between Sam Sloman, Lirim Hajrullahu, and Austin MacGinnis, a job ultimately won by Sloman. That was an immediately decision and the team signed Kai Forbath. When that didn’t work out, the Rams finally turned to Gay and were lucky that the Bucs had let him go. Gay went 14-of-16 on kicks that season over seven games. He returned in 2021, going 32-of-34 and 48-of-49 on extra points, reaching his first Pro Bowl.

The 29-year-old Gay (technically he’s 28 by the first day of free agency is his birthday) should be one of, if not the top kicker in free agency. The Rams do not have a lot of cap space, which is a reason they may not be choosing to tag him, but could they still work out a long-term deal before next week? That would help with the cap space and avoid another poorly run experiment at the position, but perhaps Gay would like to go somewhere else now that he’s a hot commodity.

A kicker with his resume could get $5 million per season or more.