Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Perhaps Matt Prater hasn't signed his franchise tag because he's been waiting for someone else to set the market.
Well, consider it set.
Tampa Bay inked their kicker Connor Barth to a four-year deal worth a total of $13.2M, including $4M in guarantees, which is a modest increase over the $2.6M franchise tag tendered to Barth (same amount as Prater).
Of the five kickers to be tagged this offseason, Barth is the only one with a long-term deal; Cincy's Mike Nugent and Cleveland's Phil Dawson ($3.81M) signed their one-year tenders, while Prater and Jacksonville's Josh Scobee have not. As for unrestricted free agent kickers, none of them got a whole lot of cash this offseason; John Kasay got an undisclosed one-year deal in New Orleans, Arizona gave Jay Feely $2.5M over two seasons, Washington signed Neil Rackers for $990K, and the Jets gave Nick Folk and Josh Brown one-year deals worth $765K and $855K, respectively.
Of these players, Barth is the most similar to Prater in terms of age and experience, with Barth holding a significant edge on accuracy (83.9% vs 78.4%). But, Prater kicks off, and Barth does not (Bucs punter Michael Koenen handles that duty).
The average value of Barth's deal ($3.3M) would seem a bit rich for someone like Prater who has struggled so mightily from 40-49 yards in his career (21/36 career, 3/7 in 2011). But Prater has a really strong leg and booms them from 50+, right? He does, and is 12/16 from distance over his career, and 3/4 in 2011.
But that's not quite as impressive as it seems, as several kickers attempted more kicks from 50+ last year and made a higher percentage than Prater, including Robbie Gould (6/6), Dawson (7/8), Rob Bironas (6/7), Scobee (5/6), Rackers (4/5), and David Akers (7/9).
None of this to say Denver needs to upgrade at kicker, or to lessen his outsized impact on the Broncos' 2011 playoff run.
But at the same time, it's a reminder that there are plenty of good kickers out there who have strong legs and who perform quite well on kickoffs. A lot of them are also far more accurate than Prater has been from 40-49 yards, and several will be paid a lot less than Barth, and what Prater is presumably seeking. And as Bill Barnwell explained in March, that's a whole lot of cheese for a placekicker, especially when there's no telling how well he'll kick this year or the next.
Meanwhile, Rackers has been exceptionally accurate over the past four years (88.5%, although he spent those years in the domed confines of Arizona and Houston), and he's making a shade under a million dollars.
I'm all for locking Prater up on a multiyear deal. But should Denver be paying him a contract commensurate to what Tampa Bay just paid Barth?
If it comes down to allocating ~$3M annually to Prater versus signing someone like Steven Hauschka for under $1M, I'd say go with the latter, and spend those resources elsewhere.
Jason Cole says incoming rookies and their agents have been getting fleeced by teams into taking lesser compensation than the CBA allows for, with Nate Irving a glaring example.
Here's Ronnie Hillman's BTV interview following his selection by the Broncos.
Elvis Dumervil made NFLN's top 100 players list; here's their segment on him.
Old friend Domonique Foxworth is leaning toward retirement and may head to business school before potentially returning to the NFLPA as an executive.
Suspended Saints LB Jonathan Vilma is suing Roger Goodell for slander and libel over statements made by the Commish regarding the Saints' bounty system. Mike Freeman sees the move as another arrogant show of defiance by the Saints, Mike Silver hears applause from other NFL players, while Doug Farrar says Vilma and Goodell are in for quite a fight.
Raiders LB Rolando McClain was found guilty by a judge of all charges in his Alabama assault case and was sentenced to 180 days in jail. McClain's lawyer filed an appeal, which would be heard by a jury.
Our old friend Brandon Marshall has made another escape, this time from prosecution in NYC for his most recent nightclub incident.
Go figure. Now that Wes Welker has signed his franchise tag and given away all of his leverage, he says the team is offering him less in a multiyear deal than they had a year ago.
Ravens safety Ed Reed hinted yesterday that he's not thrilled with his contract by suggesting he's not sure about playing in 2012; he later backtracked. Baltimore promoted Eric DeCosta to assistant GM.
The Giants received their SB rings (Niners Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs missed the ceremony to practice with their new team) on Wednesday night; in a sad contrast, Lawrence Taylor's 1991 SB ring is up for auction.
Houston is the latest team reported to have turned down a chance to be featured on HBO's Hard Knocks.
The agent for Donald Driver expects the WR to be back with the Packers this season.
35-year-old running back Ahman Green, who hasn't played the past two seasons, sounds like he wants to revive his career.
Deion Sanders thinks coaching kids with proper form will help reduce the frequency of concussions suffered.
Peyton Manning just misses inclusion in Bucky Brooks's top five players over 35.
In his latest Walkthrough, Mike Tanier considers the reality TV hell of watching Ndamukong Suh on a dating show, plus he ranks the top RBs in Cardinals history.
Some kid covered some awful song with a tribute to Tom Brady.