Aug 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos kick Matt Prater (5) during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 21-16. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
In somewhat stunning news, the Denver Broncos have elected to release kicker Matt Prater and instead are going with Brandon McManus for their kicker position, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.
No one really expected this to happen, though the reasons for it make plenty of sense. First of all, Prater is one screw up away from really screwing the Broncos over, and they feel like they have a long-term solution in McManus. Second, Prater looked horrid in the preseason, and the Broncos likely saw it in camp as well that perhaps he was in some kind of funk.
Third, McManus is far cheaper. Prater was — justifiably so — one of the highest paid specialists in the NFL at $3 million in base salary. McManus makes a fraction of that.
What McManus will end up costing the Broncos now is a seventh round pick, which will go to the New York Giants. Not a bad pickup for either party, especially since the Broncos are expected to recoup a handful of draft picks in compensatory selections, which won’t be much of a difference from where they would normally pick.
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Prater shouldn’t have any trouble finding a job with some unsettling kicking situations around the league, such as Detroit, but one place that might make some sense for Prater is the Chiefs, oddly enough. The Chiefs are currently rolling with rookie kicker Cairo Santos.
There are plenty of teams in the league who will take a shot at Prater, but there’s no doubt he looked way off in the preseason and McManus hasn’t given the Broncos any reason not to keep him at this point. One thing that McManus hasn’t done is make clutch kicks. Prater made A LOT of those in his time with the Broncos.
A heck of a lot.
The Broncos and their fans owe Prater a debt of gratitude for his work with the team, even though he wasn’t always disciplined off the field. Prater was able to set the NFL record with a 64-yard kick against the Titans in 2013. He made what feels like countless clutch or game-winning kicks in his time with Denver, which started at the end of the Mike Shanahan era.
On to the Brandon McManus era, the kicker hand-picked by John Elway and company.