The Surprising Release of Matt Prater Makes Sense on a Couple of Levels


On the surface, the surprising release of kick Matt Prater makes little sense. He’s one of the best kickers in the NFL and is very good under pressure. I’ll be the first to admit that I am puzzled by the move and it could come back to bite the Broncos if Brandon McManus misses a kick to win a game in the coming weeks.

That being said, the move is somewhat understandable for a couple of reasons. The first is the fact that Prater is one strike away from being suspended for an entire year, and I believe that scared the Broncos.

The NFL is not fair; when your name is Von Miller, the Broncos are willing to put up with a suspension and a threat of a much longer suspension because of the talent. When Miller is healthy and in the right frame of mind, he’s a top five defensive player in the league.

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When a kicker, no matter how great he is, starts getting suspended and cannot be counted on, then teams tend to have little patience. As good as Prater is, he’s replaceable with someone who does not have his issues. There are no players on the street with Miller’s abilities and that’s the difference.

Secondly, Prater is making a lot of money for a kicker and you can bet that figured into the decision. If they can find a younger kicker who can do the job at a fraction of the cost, then they are going to do just that.

The Broncos have two key players in Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas who they are going to have to pay, and releasing Prater frees up a decent chunk of change.

Lastly is the fact that Prater was awful in the preseason and maybe that figured into the decision. It could have been that Prater was preoccupied with his pending suspension but the Broncos could not have been pleased with his performance through training camp.

As for McManus, the Broncos are obviously comfortable with him going forward. It’s true he hasn’t made a pressure kick yet but to be fair, he hasn’t had the opportunity yet either. McManus has proven he is better on kickoffs than Prater, especially on the road.

It seems like a small thing but when the opposing offense is forced to go 80 yards because there is no chance for a return, then the Broncos defense is in a much better position.

As with any move, the decision to release Prater will be judged based on how McManus does. If McManus makes a couple of kicks to win a big game or two, then it was a good move. If the Broncos lose a key game due to a missed kick, then it will be right to criticize the move..