It's been expected for months now that the Broncos would sign punter Britton Colquitt to a contract extension.
The only question was whether the pricetag would be a reasonable one, or a gross overpayment similar to that given placekicker Matt Prater.
As you can tell by our title, John Elway & Co. opted for the latter.
Colquitt's three-year extension is worth $11.7M, bringing his four-year total to $13M, or $3.25M per season, which ties him with Tampa Bay's Michael Koenen for the fourth-highest AAV among punters.
Prater's contract, signed 13 months ago, was also worth $13M over four years, although Prater was franchise-tagged at the time, while Colquitt was tendered as a restricted free agent at the lowest level. In each case, the players held little or no leverage, and still, the Broncos paid them like unrestricted free agents.
That's $6.5M/year for two specialists who get the benefit of the Mile High altitude eight times per season, and who figure to get very little work as long as Peyton Manning is in town.
To wit, 23 of the other 31 punters in the league had more kicks than Colquitt, while 13 kickers attempted more field goals than Prater in 2012.
And despite the significant advantage presented by that altitude, Colquitt ranked just 18th in yards per punt, while Prater was only the 26th-most accurate kicker in the league.
That said, Colquitt is far more deserving of his contract than Prater has shown himself to be, as Britton ranked third in net average and second in return average last season.
John Elway & Co. have done a stellar job of managing the payroll and salary cap over the past 2.5 years, but these are two of the biggest headscratchers, along with the re-signing of Joe Mays last year.
There are no NFL kicking or punting jobs easier than those located in Denver, especially while Manning is running the offense. And yet, the Broncos are paying their specialists like Al Davis and his last-place Raiders paid Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler over the years.
On those Oakland teams, Janikowski and Lechler may have been their best players.
But on this squad, there may be no fewer than twenty players who are more important to the Broncos' prospects.
That Prater and Colquitt are now tied for the tenth-highest AAV on the team is simply baffling, and we can only hope these two deals in no way prevent the Broncos from re-signing someone like Chris Harris, Wesley Woodyard, Eric Decker, or Zane Beadles.