Through the early portion of free agency, the Indianapolis Colts made a slightly shocking move by signing kicker Matt Gay to a four-year deal, making him one of the highest-paid players at the position.
The Colts no doubt had a need to find a new kicker even with the stellar production they received from Chase McLaughlin for the majority of the 2022 campaign.
Instead of bringing McLaughlin back, the Colts signed Gay to a four-year deal worth $22.5 million, making his $5.6 million average annual value the second-highest in the NFL behind only Justin Tucker.
That contract is why Kevin Patra of NFL.com listed it as one of the riskiest signings in free agency.
I have nothing against Matt Gay, a stellar kicker who made 93.8 percent of his field goal attempts over the past two years in L.A. and has a strong leg. My bigger issue is the Colts handing a kicker $5.625 million per year, the second-most in the NFL. Outside of Justin Tucker, there isn’t a kicker I’d view worthy of hefty pay. The position often comes with massive swings in reliability. On a roster with needs on the O-line, at receiver and elsewhere, it seems an odd use of assets. To make the signing even more bizarre, after Tampa Bay waived Gay in 2020, he was on the Colts’ practice squad for two months before L.A. snapped him up. Instead of elevating him at the time, Indy ultimately had to pay top dollar to bring him back. Good for Gay and his agent for getting a great deal, but for a Colts club that feels in flux, it looks anxious.
Once the initial shock of the signing wore off, it turns out there’s very little risk with the contract, which is the biggest gripe most detractors would have about the move.
This deal will hardly make a negative impact on the salary cap. Even in its most expensive season, the contract accounts for a mere 2.4% of the salary cap.
There’s also no guaranteed money after the 2024 season so the Colts can still get out of the deal if things go horrendously wrong. But with the way Gay has been kicking, that’s not expected to happen.
Over the last two seasons with the Rams, Gay has converted 60-of-64 field-goal attempts (93.8%) and has missed just two of his 81 extra-point attempts during that span. That includes converting 11-of-14 attempts from 50 yards or more.
Among kickers with at least 100 career field-goal attempts, Gay’s 87.8% conversion rate ranks as the fifth-best mark in the game. He trails only Justin Tucker (90.5%), Younghoe Koo (89.1%), Daniel Carlson (88.3%) and Harrison Butker (88.2%).
There is something to be said about the volatility of the position, something the Colts have dealt with since the retirement of Adam Vinatieri.
But if Gay continues to kick in the manner he has over the last two seasons, especially with at least half of his games coming in a dome, there will be little risk involved with this move.
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