Changes Likely Coming to Broncos Kicking Units


The Denver Broncos had an odd dilemma in 2014 when kicker Matt Prater was suspended to start the season, and they were forced to look outside the team for kicking help. After Prater had just made the Pro Bowl with one of the best single seasons in NFL history as a kicker and kickoff specialist, that was a tall task.

John Elway first turned to the Giants for kicker/kickoff specialist Brandon McManus, who was traded for a draft pick that would become permanent if McManus was still on the roster when Prater came back from suspension. The Broncos decided they didn’t want to deal with Prater anymore, so they kept McManus and gave their long-time kicker the boot, releasing the man who holds the record for the longest field goal in NFL history, one that he made in Denver against the Titans back in the magical 2013 regular season.

With Prater gone, the Broncos turned to the young McManus, who struggled mightily as a place kicker but excelled as a kickoff specialist. He proved much too unreliable as a field goal kicker so the Broncos signed veteran Connor Barth, formerly the franchise player of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who was injured and let go before the start of the regular season.

Barth came in, immediately made five field goals in one game, and McManus was let go. McManus was brought back to the practice squad after it became apparent the Broncos might need him for kickoff duties, because Barth was giving up too much field position with weaker kickoffs than they expected or felt comfortable with going down the home stretch of the season.

With Britton Colquitt apparently unable to handle kickoffs, the Broncos had four players dedicated specifically to the kicking game, including long snapper Aaron Brewer. That could (and should) all change this season, as new special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis has stated his preference is to have just three guys handling those duties.

The Broncos will certainly need the extra roster spot.

“Ideally you’d like to have one punter, one kicker and one long snapper. That’s the amount of specialists we’d like to carry going in and that’s what the goal is going in,” DeCamillis said.

The wild card for the Broncos in all this is free agent/tryout signee Karl Schmitz, a relatively unknown YouTube punting/kicking sensation who has one of the strongest legs you’ll see, and can help you in a lot of ways on special teams. When the Broncos originally picked him up in March, he sort of had a once in a lifetime opportunity to impress John Elway, earn a contract, and win a job this offseason somehow.

With Britton Colquitt’s contract number and the upcoming players due for extensions, the Broncos might be rooting for Schmitz to go and take that job. The Broncos envision Schmitz as a punter/kickoff specialist, so I could see this shaking out in a few different combinations:


K – Connor Barth, KOS – Brandon McManus, P – Britton Colquitt, LS – Aaron Brewer


K – Brandon McManus, P/KOS – Karl Schmitz, LS – Aaron Brewer

There are also different combinations you could see with McManus and Colquitt, Barth and Schmitz, but with the way DeCamillis is talking, it sounds like the Broncos won’t likely have both Connor Barth and Britton Colquitt on the roster together this year unless there’s an emergency scenario.

More likely, we’ll see one of McManus or Schmitz win a job, with the other duties going to the veteran that proves he’s still ‘in the game’. I haven’t seen much from Britton Colquitt in recent years that indicates to me he’s played up to the hefty punter contract the Broncos gave to him, especially last year.

The Broncos need someone punting who can change field position and force offenses to have to throw a lot more against this top passing attack.

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