On Wednesday May 11, the Jacksonville Jaguars waived former Pittsburgh Steelers placekicker Mathew Wright. Bob Pompeani of KDKA-TV (Pittsburgh) described it as a “strange move” on the part of the Jags. John Shipley of Jaguar Report reacted similarly, labeling it a “surprise move,” having noted that Wright made 21-of-24 field goals (87.5%) for the Jags in 2021, while also converting 13-of-15 extra point attempts.
Most notably, Wright was the hero in Jacksonville’s 23-20 win over the Miami Dolphins in London last October, allowing the Jags to end a 20-game losing streak. Specifically, he converted both of his extra-point attempts and all three of his field goal attempts — including 54- and 53-yarders during the last four minutes of the game — which led to AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the Central Florida product.
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It appears that the main thing holding Wright back from locking down a full-time placekicking job is leg strength, particularly as it pertains to kickoffs. Wright kicked off 31 times for the Jaguars in 2021 but only six of those kickoffs (19.4%) went for touchbacks, as per Pro Football Reference (PFF). That’s an improvement over the year before, however, as just one of his 15 kickoffs for the Steelers went for a touchback (6.7%).
Jacksonville Has 2 Other Kickers on Its Roster
With Wright having been waived, it appears the Jags will be moving forward with either Ryan Santoso, who signed with Jacksonville on March 21, or rookie undrafted free agent Andrew Mevis (Iowa State), who joined the team earlier this month.
Santoso, 26, has appeared in seven regular-season games with three different teams over the course of three seasons, having converted 6-of-8 career extra-point attempts and 4-of-5 field goal attempts, per PFF.
Mevis — who transferred to Iowa State from Fordham — made 20-of-23 field goal attempts for the Cyclones in 2021, with a long of 54 yards.
Matthew Wright’s NFL Journey to Date
Wright, 26, first signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019 and converted 5-of-6 field goals during the preseason that year, which not surprisingly, wasn’t enough to unseat incumbent kicker Chris Boswell.
But he returned to the team in 2020, signing to the team’s practice squad after beating out placekicker Brandon Wright in a tryout in mid-November. He made his NFL regular-season debut in a Monday Night game vs. Washington while Boswell was out with a hip injury. He went on to kick for the Steelers in two more games after Boswell suffered a groin injury. Wright acquitted himself well in all three contests, converting 4-of-4 field goal attempts and 7-of-7 extra points tries.
After his contract with the Steelers expired at the end of the 2020 season, Wright had a tryout with Detroit and signed a one-year Future/Reserve contract with the Lions. But he was waived on Aug. 10, 2021, while in the midst of a training camp competition with Randy Bullock.
He went on to sign to Jacksonville’s practice squad in late September 2021 and was added to the active roster shortly thereafter, the chosen replacement for a badly struggling Josh Lambo.
Wright is a native of Lancaster, Pa. who played at Central Florida and remains the school’s record holder in points (375), PATs (212) and field goals (55), according to ucfknights.com.
At the moment, he has a better career field goal percentage than longtime Steelers kicker Chris Boswell (89.3% to 88.3%), albeit with a much smaller sample size. Boswell has kicked for Pittsburgh since 2015 and earned Pro Bowl honors in 2017.
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