A plan for Denver at kicker Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Who wants to talk kickers?

Continuing an offseason series for PFF, Nathan Jahnke lists the top available free agent kickers, including former Bronco Steven Hauschka, whom we had unrealistically hoped the Broncos might pursue a year ago.

Hauschka was 23 for 23 inside 50 last season, while Matt Prater was just 23 of 28. Prater was better from 50 and out (3/4 versus 1/4 for Hauschka), but he was also paid three times as much as Hauschka. On kickoffs, Hauschka allowed a higher percentage of returns, but Seattle's opponents actually started with a worse starting field position than Prater's kicks produced for Denver.

No, this is not a call for the Broncos to consider swapping out Prater for Hauschka, who will likely command a raise from the $1.26M he was paid last season.

But it's a fine reminder of the quality of kicking that can be had for far less than the $2.5M ($3,312,500 cap) Prater is set to make with the Broncos in 2013.

Many of last year's most accurate kickers (Kai Forbath: 94.4%, $390K; Blair Walsh: 92.1%, $508K; Justin Tucker: 90.9%, $390K; Nick Novak: 90%, $700K prorated to $540K) were acquired last year at a fraction of the $4M Prater received, and he was 26th in accuracy (81.3%), a year after having ranked 27th (76% in 2011).

It's high time for John Elway & Co. to bring in some real competition for Prater, for whom $250K of his 2013 salary is guaranteed.

Tucker was an undrafted rookie, Walsh was a sixth-round pick, while Forbath and Novak were each midseason signings off the NFL trash heap.

Josh Brown ($825K prorated to $103,125) was 11-of-12 (91.7%) as a late-season signee for Cincy, and is again an unrestricted free agent.

So are Novak and Nate Kaeding (whom Novak replaced in San Diego), who is the fourth most accurate kicker in NFL history, although Kaeding has fought injuries for two years.

The Broncos should sign one of these veterans to the veteran minimum, or better yet, nab an undrafted rookie and pay him the $405K minimum. Maybe the kid turns into the next Tucker, and if not, you cut him and move on.

If Prater wins the camp competition and again falters as he's likely to, cut him and sign the next Forbath, Novak, or Brown off the street.

Broncos

Mike Klis says it's expected that pending free agents Brandon Stokley, Kevin Vickerson, Justin Bannan, Keith Brooking, Jim Leonhard, Tracy Porter, and Matt Willis will all be permitted to test the open market, while the team is hoping that one of Nate Irving and Steven Johnson will grab hold of the starting Mike job.

Dan Pompei could see the Broncos cutting Knowshon Moreno, and he finds plenty of precedent for Denver's promotion of Adam Gase to OC.

How Tony Carter, Moreno, and Virgil Green graded out no better than Lance Ball in Jeff Legwold's bizarro report card is beyond us. That Derek Wolfe, Dan Koppen, and Mitch Unrein were just a shade better is baffling, while Orlando Franklin faring worse than all of them is absolutely, positively mind-altering, or requires some mind-altering substances to comprehend. At best.

While we're not sure the Broncos should be going the exclusive tag route, we obviously agree with Zach Fogg that tagging Clady at all is the correct move for them.

Bill Will thinks the Broncos can upgrade over Jacob Hester, and he could see Denver making a splash move at slot receiver.

News

FWIW, former Colts WR Austin Collie says he hopes to play in the NFL in 2013. At this point, consider it an upset if he doesn't land in Denver at the $715K minimum he'd command.

Georgia's Alec Ogletree, one of the top linebacker prospects in this year's draft, was arrested and cited for DUI last weekend, and he'll have to explain both that offense and a prior reported drug-induced suspension this week at the combine.

Hmm. Can anyone come up with a reasonable explanation why the NFL should be allowed to continue operating as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization, while its welfare queen owners continue to milk the public for multiple-hundred-million-dollar subsidies on their stadiums?

Analysis

Adam Teicher isn't certain that the Chiefs will take any quarterback in the upcoming draft, even less with the first-overall pick.

San Diego is once again desperate to find a proper left tackle, and how do they feel about handing two first-round picks over to Denver in exchange for one?

Count Brad Gagnon of Awful Announcing among those who'd love to replace a slew of studio analysts including our beloved Shannon Sharpe and IAOFM patron saint Tom Jackson. While we won't agree with that part, at least his list of candidates is quite excellent, with Andy Benoit as a notable omission.

Chase Stuart's fine trivia question for today regards the man who held the NFL's single-season TD pass record prior to Dan Marino.

Miscellany

Happy 50th Birthday to Michael Jordan, the greatest athlete this writer has ever seen. For a proper measure of MJ's dominance, here's Craig Ehlo, one of the poor schlubs sent to try and cover him, and the late, great LA Times writer Jim Murray.

More details are emerging regarding the alleged murder by Oscar Pistorius of his girlfriend, and they're gruesome.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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