INDIANAPOLIS – The biggest early news in free agency for the Colts is at a position where the team had a rare reliable option at last season.
But the Colts are deciding to let Chase McLaughlin walk in free agency, while making a splash in signing 28-year-old Pro Bowl kicker Matt Gay to a reported deal of 4 years and $22.5 million.
Gay has always been viewed as a kicker with major potential, and tapped into that each of the last two season.
A 2019 5th round pick of the Bucs, Gay struggled a bit as a rookie with Tampa and actually spent two months on the Indy practice squad in 2020 (during the COVID season) before joining the Rams late that year.
It was with the Rams that Gay became a Super Bowl winner and Pro Bowler.
In earning Pro Bowl honors in 2021, Gay went 32-of-34 on his field goals 48-of-49 on extra points.
He followed that up last season by going 28-of-30 on field goals (lone misses from 51 and 61 yards) and 31-of-32 on extra points.
Length is no issue for Gay.
For his career, he’s 17-of-23 on field goals north of 50 yards.
And in 6 playoff games, Gay is 12-of-14 on field goals and 14-of-14 on extra points.
This move by the Colts is taking a position that’s been a bit shaky in recent years and trying to take it from steadier under McLaughlin to an elite level out of Gay.
McLaughlin definitely deserves a hat tip for what he gave the Colts this past season.
Not only was McLaughlin reliable in replacing Rodrigo Blankenship last year, but he gave the Colts an aspect they haven’t had in years—a kicker capable of making 50-yard plus field goals on a provided basis.
McLaughlin didn’t miss an extra point (21-of-21) and was 30-of-36 on field goals last year, going 9-of-13 from longer than 50 yards.
It doesn’t always look the prettiest with McLaughlin, and the back of his baseball card indicated 2022 might be an outlier.
McLaughlin, 26, has bounced around in his 4-year NFL career, including replacing Adam Vinatieri during the 2019 season.
In 2019, McLaughlin had stints with the Colts (4 games), Chargers (4 games), and 49ers (3 games).
In 2020, he was with the Jaguars (3 games) and Jets (1 game).
The Browns gave McLaughlin the kicking job in 2021, where he went 15-of-21 in 16 games.
So, clearly, this 2022 campaign was the best McLaughlin has kicked in the NFL.
And the Colts, with a new special teams coordinator in Brian Mason, has looked at a position of reliability in 2022 and tried to take it up another rung of the ladder by making a serious investment at kicker.
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