I’m not sure if this is a good sign, a bad sign, or perhaps no sign of anything future trend. But suddenly, NFL teams seem to be unloading former LA Rams players who they signed in free agency to lucrative contracts en masse. So the obvious question that will pop into the heads of LA Rams fans is: Will the LA Rams kick the tires on the guy just released by the Dallas Cowboys?
Oh, you didn’t hear? The Cowboys have released Greg Zuerlein. Now, he is a free agent with no offset for any algorithm used to calculate compensatory picks. That is typically the formula that attracts the interest of the LA Rams and GM Les Snead.
But in this case, I just can’t see it. The LA Rams are incredibly bullish with placekicker Matt Gay, who is himself a free agent. That’s not just coach-speak hype, but rather strongly supported over the past two years. In short, Gay is a substantial upgrade over Zuerlein these past two seasons.
Rams Free Agency includes signing a placekicker
The LA Rams value distance and accuracy with their starting placekicker. In the past two seasons, Zuerlein has kicked at an 82.9 percent accuracy on field goals for the Cowboys. He had that same accuracy for extra points, a solid 82.9 percent accuracy. But whenever he lined up at a distance of 50+ yards, all bets were off. He made just five of 14 field goals at a range of 50 yards or greater, a success rate of just 35.7 percent. Yikes.
In comparison, the Rams enjoyed a 92 percent accuracy from Gay in the past two years, plus a 98.5 percent accuracy on extra points. What about distance? He checks the boxes there too. He made 13 of 15 from a range of 40-49 yards, for an accuracy of 86.7 percent. He was almost as impressive at a distance of 50+ yards. booting five of six for an accuracy of 83.3 percent.
Gay truly came through for the Rams in the 2021 playoffs, booting eight of ten field goals, and hitting a perfect 11 of 11 on extra points. The LA Rams’ margin of victory in their final three postseason wins was three points.
Zuerlein was in his third year of a three-year $7.5 million contract. The LA Rams paid Gay just $850,000 for his 2021 NFL season. Since Gay is a Restricted Free Agent, the Rams will likely tender him a Right-of-First-Refusal Tender Offer for $2.43 million.
Look for the LA Rams to stick with the cheaper and more productive option in Matt Gay for the 2022 NFL season.