Kicker Matt Bryant, 43, feels great, says Tampa is an option

As a Falcon, Matt Bryant converted 250 of 282 field goals (88.7 percent) and is the franchise's all-time leading scorer with 1,717 points. Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

Former Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant thinks he still has a few good years remaining and believes a return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers "definitely is an option" once he reaches free agency in March.

The Falcons parted ways with Bryant after 10 seasons, declining to exercise his team option for 2019. Bryant, who had two years and $7 million remaining on his contract, won't officially become a free agent until 4 p.m. ET on March 13.

Bryant kicked for the Buccaneers from 2005 to '08 before joining the Falcons. The Bucs need a reliable kicker, and former Falcons special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong now holds the same position in Tampa.

"They are definitely an option," Bryant told ESPN regarding the Buccaneers. "I could definitely [see myself] going back there to play. Wherever I go is the best-case scenario. Keith knows me, and I know him. We've worked together. There's a strong familiarity.

"I mean, there are all kind of things that go into this. Yes, I played there before. I still have a house there. But the bottom line is, it takes two. They might not still want me there. The teams that interest me are the teams that want me."

A source told ESPN there will be interest from the Buccaneers once free agency begins.

Bryant, who turns 44 in May, believes he can play at least three more years and said his body felt good after the 2019 season. He would like a multiyear deal and a chance to play for a contender. That's why Bryant is well aware of the kicking situations in places such as Pittsburgh, Chicago and Minnesota, to name a few.

It's unclear if the Buccaneers will be contenders under new coach Bruce Arians, with the New Orleans Saints the favorite in the NFC South. But Bryant knows there is a good opportunity after the Bucs have had their share of kicking woes -- or the "Matt Bryant curse," as it has been called -- ever since they decided to release him and go with Mike Nugent.

Bryant doesn't hold any grudges toward the Buccaneers about what happened in the past. At the same time, he's not limiting his options when it comes to free agency, either.

"Look at it like this: There's all kind of interesting scenarios out there," Bryant said. "Obviously, as an individual, you want to go somewhere and you want to win. And while you're there, everyone wants to make as much money as you can, as in any occupation. Just being happy where you are ... there's a lot of things that go into this.

"I'm going to have to sit down with my agent and figure out what will be better, here or there. And also, I have to sit down with my family. At the end of the day, there are going to be so many factors that are going to go into this. And I am conscious of the reality that until offers come or don't come, we'll just see. You want to go where you're wanted."

Bryant obviously wasn't wanted by the Falcons, who plan to go with Giorgio Tavecchio next season. Tavecchio will make $645,000, while Bryant was scheduled to make $3.5 million in '19.

"They gave me their explanation: They didn't think that I could physically do it anymore," said Bryant, who spoke with coach Dan Quinn while his agent spoke with general manager Thomas Dimitroff. "They told me that in so many words. I guess me getting hurt there, they didn't think I can make it through a whole year.

"I said during an interview during the Super Bowl, 'I still have two years, on paper.' When I said two years on paper, I didn't know if they were going to keep me around. In my gut, I had a feeling. But in my mind, I didn't think [being let go] was going to happen because the non-success they had on the field."

Bryant firmly believes he has plenty of leg left despite missing three games last season because of a hamstring injury. In 13 games during the '19 season, Bryant hit 20 of 21 field goals and made 33 of 35 extra points. As a Falcon, Bryant converted 250 of 282 field goals (88.7 percent) and is the franchise's all-time leading scorer with 1,717 points.

"I can still hit from 57 yards; I can still make the game-winning kick," Bryant said. "I can still do this and do that -- not because I say so, but because I've proven it."

Asked to sum up his time with the Falcons in one word, Bryant said, "Money." That just so happened to be the same word fans typically used to describe his reliability.

"Not because I say it, but because my stats say it," Bryant said. "I did what I had to do. I gave it everything that I had on the field. And I tried to give everything that I had off the field. And the fans gave me everything that they had."