Broncos Release Kicker Matt Prater
Matt Prater has kicked his last field goal for the Denver Broncos. The team has announced his release and will move forward with Brandon McManus at kicker.
Prater was serving a four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy and was slated to return in week six. Unfortunately for Prater, McManus filled in for him while he was away from the team, and performed well enough that the team decided the younger, cheaper kicker was the better option.
Better isn’t necessarily the way to put it, though. The 30-year old Prater is still without a doubt one of the top kickers in the entire league – if not the best, overall. Prater showed as much just last year, when he converted 25-of-26 field goals and knocked in all 75 of his extra point attempts.
On top of his elite accuracy in 2013, Prater offered excellent accuracy from long range and also displayed a nice clutch ability. Broncos fans won’t soon forget his clutch moments during Tim Tebow’s run three years ago, while his leg strength has been front and center, as the veteran kicker has never missed more than one 50+ yard field goal in a season during his entire career.
Suffice to say, Denver is taking a bit of a bold step here by parting with such a proven weapon. McManus has looked fine his three games for Denver, but there’s nothing yet to suggest he’s going to be as good as Prater, while there is even less to suggest he’ll actually be better. He’s 100% on three field goals and all of his extra points to this point, but hasn’t been asked to make so much as a 40+ yard field goal and hasn’t been forced into any high pressure situations.
Prater’s big leg is moving on, though, and it’s unlikely he’ll be out on the open market for long. Any prospective teams will likely wait until after his suspension is up, but going into week six, we should quickly hear whispers of tryouts for Prater. One team that could express interest is the Detroit Lions, who had recently signed Alex Henery but saw the young kicker miss a field goal in his debut.
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