Jan 12, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater (5) against the San Diego Chargers during the 2013 AFC divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
During the 2015 Offseason for the Denver Broncos, they will have a lot of players hitting the free agent market. I know it is ludicrous to be thinking about the offseason when the 2014 season is only three games in for the Broncos, but Friday’s news had me thinking about the future.
The Broncos decided to part ways with Matt Prater, cutting perhaps one of the most elite kickers in the league as of right now. If you all remember, Prater was a couple days away from finishing his four game suspension for an alcohol related violation. Once the game against the Arizona Cardinals was completed, he was set to come off of his suspension. However, the Broncos decided to move into another direction and release Prater three days before the suspension ended. The move shocked a vast majority of Broncos fans. I was shocked myself. How could the team release the most accurate kicker in 2013?
But after you think about it, the move was indeed smart by the organization. This move will help as far as the salary cap for the offseason. Matt Prater was set to make a little over three million dollars this season and releasing him will save the team a little over two million this year and a little over three million for the 2015 salary cap during the offseason. It may not seem like much, but like Ian said in his reasons why the cut was a good move is because players like Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Chris Harris and Terrance Knighton to name a few are heading into contract years. Both Thomases, Chris Harris and Terrance Knighton would be players that the Broncos want to keep for a long period of time and want to give them a deal in the offseason. Having an emerging wide out and tight end plus two defensive players that can make plays is better than a kicker who could be at risk of being suspended for a year.
Speaking of year-long suspensions, the next time Prater decides that he wants to have a drink could cost the team his services for a year. He originally was supposed to be gone for the year, but the case was fought and he got only four games. The original plan was to keep Prater in case Brandon McManus did not impress during the four games. While he has only attempted three field goals from less than 30 yards, he was effective on touchbacks, converting 14 of 16 kickoffs for touchbacks. He has a lot of potential and was a better choice in the long run.
The move was crucial if the Broncos, during the offseason, want to keep players who can impact the team on the field instead of cost them off of the field. The team could not risk losing a valuable player for a year the next time he decided to break the rules. It is such a shame that the team is losing a valuable player but as a fan it does make sense, especially if the team wants to be competitive in the long run. With so many moves to make during the offseason, they had to make moves and unfortunately Matt Prater was not involved in the long-term plans.