Don't count on the LA Rams landing another Matt Gay at placekicker

Los Angeles Rams Matt Gay
Los Angeles Rams Matt Gay / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

The more I think about it, the more amazed that I become with the LA Rams ability to find and sign such a proficient place kicker off the street as they were able to accomplish in 2020 by signing Matt Gay. If you recall, he was not the team's first choice at the position. In fact, he was not the team's second choice either.

The details that may sometimes be overlooked is the fact that it took the Rams to rifle through four other placekickers before landing on Matt Gay, who was himself a kicker who was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the end of the 2019 NFL season. In 2020, the Rams' 2020 search necessitated a kicker competition between drafted rookie K Sam Sloman and FA signings USFL K Austin MacGinnis and CFL K Lirim Hajrullahu.

To the fans who witnessed only limited performances out of the trio, it appeared that the competition was won by either Hajrullahu or MacGinnis, with Sloman ending up in third place. So it was a mild surprise when the team named Sam Sloman as their starting kicker for the 2020 NFL season. But that did not last long, as Sloman struggled with both power and accuracy for the Rams.

Soon into the season, the team re-signed Austin MacGinnies to the practice squad, and then signed Kai Forbath to the team's active roster. Forbath was a bit better, but he was injured. That pushed the Rams to sign Matt Gay. Five kickers into their search, the Rams finally settled on their place kicker who would go on to start for the team to finish out the 2020 NFL season all the way through 2022.

It's going to take a lot of time to find the right guy

The Rams needed to sort through five kickers before finding 'their guy.' While no talent search is the same, the Rams cannot enter the search in 2023 for a punter, a kicker, a long snapper, and a return specialist as a need that can be addressed solely on data analytics or the 2023 NFL Draft. In 2020, the Rams were solely focused on finding a starting kicker, and the team did not identify a worthy player until half the season was behind them.

Will that end up being a drafted rookie, an undrafted rookie signing, or a veteran signed for the league minimum? I cannot say at this point. The Rams are not blessed with an offense yet that can punch the football in for an automatic touchdown. A talented placekicker and a powerful punter are very much necessities if the Rams hope to compete in 2023.

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But if the bar of expectations set right now is to find an equivalent or upgrade to kicker Matt Gay, i recommend lowering those expectations for now. For my part, I'm hoping for a Kai Forbath talent level. If the Rams find someone better, then I will be more than happy to be pleasantly surprised.

So why did the LA Rams allow Matt Gay to walk away in free agency? Due to the Rams financial situation, I don't think that the Rams truly had much of a say in the matter.