PFF's Khaled Elsayed recently went over three years of pass blocking data for guards and centers, with Denver's starting RG Chris Kuper not faring well in terms of total pressure - a point which will not surprise TJ. As you might have imagined, center J.D. Walton ranks worst at his position, and you know who's at the other end of the spectrum?
Why, it's Jeff Saturday, that's who.
He's the guy the Broncos wanted to sign and reunite with Peyton Manning, but they got outbid by the Packers.
A couple of weeks back, before we got to studying Miami Beach police reports and hoping that Elvis Dumervil wouldn't be suspended, or worse, I was complaining about Matt Prater's new contract. One of my thoughts was that the Broncos could have spent less on a kicker, instead upgrading at another position. At the time, I'd speculated that the savings could have been converted into another linebacker, what with D.J. Williams's looming suspension, or perhaps another safety.
But what about Saturday?
Denver is paying Prater $4.25M in guarantees as part of a four-year, $13M deal, which averages out to $3.25M per year. They were outbid by Green Bay for the services of Saturday, the longtime ex-Colts center who snapped to Peyton Manning for the last twelve of Peyton's thirteen years in the league. Green Bay is paying Saturday $4M in guarantees this season, and he's due to make $3.75M (unguaranteed) in 2013.
In theory, the Broncos could potentially have paid enough to sign Saturday, having freed up the cash by finding a cheaper alternative to Prater (think Ryan Longwell or a draft pick). Longwell is still a free agent, and the savings of signing him instead of Prater would probably be very similar to the difference between Denver and Green Bay's offers to Saturday. Drafting a kicker would have saved even more funds.
Denver knew all along how much they'd have to pay Prater, and they presumably set aside enough of their payroll budget to do so.
Yes, it's all a moot point by now. What's done is done. And, who knows whether the Broncos actually could have convinced Saturday to join Manning in Denver. Maybe he's too old anyway, and there's always the possibility that playing with Peyton turns Walton into a better center. Rookie Philip Blake could also beat his old Baylor teammate for the starting gig, but that seems unlikely.
It's also quite reasonable to think the Broncos would have spent any money saved at the kicking spot somewhere else. But we haz pollz after much anticipation, so humor me?
What's your preference? J.D. Walton and Matt Prater, or Jeff Saturday and a cheaper kicker?