As unappreciated as kickers are in the NFL, they are often responsible for making the exclamation point on a win...or the question mark for a loss. Like, “How did you miss that?”
The Los Angeles Rams were all too familiar with question marks after parting with Greg Zuerlein in 2020, rotating through a competition that included Sam Sloman, Lirim Hajrullahu, Austin MacGinnis, and eventually Kai Forbath. It wasn’t until Matt Gay, the fifth kicker of 2020, was added midseason that the Rams finally found their man.
Since that time, Gay made 74-of-80 attempts on field goals and 95-of-97 extra points, being named to the Pro Bowl in 2021 as L.A. went to and won the Super Bowl. However, the Rams opted to back off of Gay and virtually all free agents this offseason, watching as he signed a four-year, $22.5 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts. It’s a lot of money for a kicker, but the team had the right to franchise tag him and figure it out as time went on. If this doesn’t signal that the L.A. Rams are not expecting to be involved in close games that they want to win, I don’t know what does.
(The lack of defensive players, offensive linemen, a punter, a backup quarterback, and any stars other than Matt Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald probably.)
Colts GM Chris Ballard is all too happy to take Gay off of L.A.’s hands however, referring to the kicker as a “weapon” that they’re glad to have back in the fold. Gay was on Indy’s practice squad prior to being picked up by the Rams in 2020.
The quote: ”Getting Matt Gay, we think he can be a real weapon,” Ballard said. “We saw it back in ‘20 — we saw it in practice.”
Context: Gay was on the Colts’ practice squad for about two months during the 2020 season. The Los Angeles Rams signed him to their active roster that November, but Gay made a strong impression on the Colts during his time in Indianapolis – an impression that Ballard felt benefitted the team when he hit free agency.
Gay should enjoy a lot of success at Lucas Oil, just as he did at SoFi. Will the next kicker for the Rams be as much of a pleasant surprise as Gay, or as much of a Sloman as Hajrullahu?
We have yet to find out.