Broncos sign Prater to four-year deal

John Elway announced the Broncos have signed placekicker Matt Prater to a four-year deal:

Happy to announce we have signed kicker Matt Prater to a new four-year deal. This was the final piece in setting our roster for camp, and we are thrilled Matt is going to be a Bronco for a long time. Matt has developed into one of the NFL’s elite kickers and is a big part of our team.

Denver had used its franchise tag on Prater earlier in the offseason, but the seventh-year kicker had not signed the one-year, $2.654M deal, instead skipping the team's recent OTAs with negotiations ongoing. The two sides had faced a July 16 deadline to agree to a long-term deal.

According to the Denver Post, the deal includes a $3M signing bonus and a total value of $13M over four years. If these figures are accurate, Prater has surprisingly received 25% less in guaranteed money than did Connor Barth in Tampa Bay.

I've repeatedly expressed my qualms about the Broncos potentially giving Prater a hefty guarantee, but this is a palatable number. And even if the length of nonguaranteed NFL contracts is relatively meaningless, I'm glad it's a four-year deal instead of five, as had been reported a month ago.

Prater, who took over as Denver's primary kicker in 2008 following the departure of Jason Elam, had an eventful 2011 season.

He nailed four game-ending kicks (three in overtime), was named the AFC's Special Teams Player of the Month for his December performances, and earned the praise of Jesus Christ on Saturday Night Live. All of this came on the heels of an embarrassing run-in with the law including a strip club employee, a hotel parking lot, and a DUI arrest.

During his time with the Broncos, the soon-to-be 28-year-old has been relatively accurate from between 30-39 yards (29 of 32) and deadly beyond 50 yards (12 of 16), but has oddly missed two short kicks (29 of 31 from 20-29 yards) that should be automatic, while struggling from 40-49 yards (20 of 33). Last season, Prater was a woeful 3-for-7 from that longish range.

That strong leg resulted in the best touchback rate in the league last year, although much of the credit appears due the Denver altitude. To wit, Prater notched 30 touchbacks on 33 kickoffs at SAF@MH, but only 18 touchbacks on 36 kickoffs while playing away from the friendly confines.

Similarly, Prater was more successful on FG attempts at home (10 of 12) than he was on the road (9 of 13).

Only two Broncos remain unsigned: second-round choice Brock Osweiler and third-rounder Ronnie Hillman.

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

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