Back in May, the Denver Broncos and Sean Payton surprised everyone when the team released longtime kicker Brandon McManus. The Super Bowl 50 winner was with the team since 2014 and became a fan favorite but Payton and the Broncos decided to go in a different direction.
They had a training camp battle between Brett Maher and Elliott Fry but neither impressed and the Broncos ended up swinging a trade for longtime Saints kicker Wil Lutz who kicked for Payton during his time with them. Meanwhile, McManus ended up taking his talents to Jacksonville as he signed with the Jaguars and became their starting kicker.
Now, with the 2023 NFL season in the books, we can look back and see if the Broncos made the right move or not. Did the Broncos regret letting McManus go? Did Lutz prove to be the better option? or was the move a win for both sides?
Wil Lutz - Broncos
Field Goal Attempts: 30-34
Field Goal Percentage: 88.2%
Field Goal Long: 52 yards
Field Goal Attempts from 50+: 3-5
Extra Point Attempts: 29-31
Extra Point Percentage: 93.5%
Lutz was pretty solid for the Broncos and had a bounce-back year after struggling last season with the Saints. His 88.2% field goal percentage was the third highest of his career and a bounce-back from the 74.2% he had last season with the Saints.
Of his four misses, two of them were from 50+ yards while one was in the 30-39 range and the other was in the 40-49 range. So, with that in mind, Lutz was fairly reliable for the Broncos. As for extra points, he missed two of them including a blocked XP vs. the Bills. The other came in the season finale vs. the Raiders but again, he was fairly reliable here as well.
His notable moment this season happened on a Monday Night in Buffalo in primetime. The clock was in the final seconds and ticking to zero as the field unit rushed onto the field to attempt the kick. Unfortunately, Lutz missed the first attempt but a 12th man on the field penalty against Buffalo gave him a chance at redemption and he kicked the next one right down the middle as the clock hit zero to win the game. The penalty saved him from a rough miss but this game-winner was the highlight of his season.
Field Goal Attempts: 30-37
Field Goal Percentage: 81.1%
Field Goal Long: 56 yards
Field Goal Attempts from 50+: 5-10
Extra Point Attempts: 35-35
Extra Point Percentage: 100%
McManus improved his field goal percentage from 77.8% last season with the Broncos to 81.1% this past season with the Jaguars. However, this was the 5th lowest of his career and his struggles from 50+ had a lot to do with this. He missed 5 of his 10 attempts from 50+ which accounted for 5 of his 7 overall misses. When he attempted a kick from the 20-39 range, McManus from perfect, however, he was 16-23 from anything from 40+. Two misses from the 40-49 range and five misses from 50+.
As for extra points, McManus was perfect on the year as he made all 35 attempts. This was the the fourth time in his career that he has had a perfect season when it came to extra points.
Did the Broncos make the right choice?
I think so, but neither side came off as a loser here.
At the end of the day, Payton wanted a kicker whom he could trust, and got that. He was his kicker while with the Saints and he wanted him in Denver. Lutz rewarded him with a bounce-back year and the third-highest field goal percentage of his career. He ended up being fairly reliable for the Broncos this past season.
I would not say he was a huge improvement over McManus who never has been a high percentage kicker (career high is 85.7% in 2015) to begin with, but he was better, at least with field goals. McManus’s struggles from long distance continued which hurt his overall percentage but he was perfect with his XP’s while Lutz had two misses.
Now I ask you Broncos Country. Did the Broncos make the right decision to go with Lutz over McManus? Or would you have preferred to keep McManus in Denver this past season?
Did the Broncos make the right decision to go with Wil Lutz over Brandon McManus?
This poll is closed