Broncos releasing K Matt Prater, who's coming off 4-game suspension, per source. Brandon McManus wins Denver kicking job.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 3, 2014
If #Broncos were willing to take $4.5M cap hit next year to cut a kicker, there must have been much more to Prater's last "issue" not public— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsESPN) October 3, 2014
Prater's release saves #Broncos $3.25 million off '15 salary cap -- Prater had one year left on deal will be $812,500 dead money next year.— Jeff Legwold (@Jeff_Legwold) October 3, 2014
Matt Prater was suspended for four games this season for violating the league's substance abuse program. Prater had been in the league's substance program since an August 2011 DUI arrest.
Prater is one season removed from converting a career high 96.2% of his kicks including perfection from 50 and beyond. He set the NFL's record for longest field goal (64 yards) on a freezing cold day against the Tennessee Titans.
Mitch Ewald was brought in this camp to provide a leg in Prater's absence but he proved to have much less power and accuracy than the Broncos wanted. The final week of the preseason, the Broncos traded a conditional 7th round pick to the New York Giants for kicker Brandon McManus who is perfect on the season having hit three short-range field goals. McManus is young and untested but he has a powerful leg and perhaps more importantly less baggage off the field.
Matt Prater will probably be remembered most for his fantastic 2011 campaign when he helped the Tim Tebow led Broncos pull out improbable victory in stunning last minute fashion with clutch kick after clutch kick. In the end, there will be a market for Prater who regardless of off the field issues remains one of the best kickers in the league.
John Elway on Prater's release:
"Parting ways with Matt Prater-the longest-tenured player on our roster-was a very difficult football decision. On behalf of our entire organization, I want to thank Matt for his seven seasons with the Broncos and wish him well going forward."