Barnwell: Broncos should be going Moneyball route with its kickers

NFL's Frequent-Flier Phenomenon

But it’s not entirely clear that Matt Prater was an above-average kicker in 2011, and Denver’s decision to lock him up represents one of the many ways in which organizations fool themselves into spending money in the wrong places…he’s now hit 78.4 percent of his field goals across five pro seasons. That ranks 37th out of 44 regular kickers over that time frame, so it’s safe to say that Prater’s not known for his accuracy.

As for the walkoffs, while they were valuable, they’re far more indicative of opportunity than skill…Consider that Prater had three game-winners in overtime this past season and just one over his previous four years in the league.

Denver’s thin air allows them to get more out of average kickers than anyone else in football. They should use that to their advantage and exploit a built-in market inefficiency by being thrifty at kicker and applying the savings elsewhere. Instead, the Broncos have handcuffed themselves to a known mediocrity for years to come.

As noted yesterday, I'm glad the Broncos didn't give as much of a guarantee to Prater as had been speculated. But his accuracy issues from 40-49 yards remains a serious concern, and one to keep an eye on going forward.

BTW, I've updated the distance splits on the prior columns, because PFR is oddly missing that data from 2009. So, Prater is actually 20 of 33 from 40-49 yards - not 12 of 23 - as I'd written yesterday and prior. This is a more palatable success rate, but still a very poor one, especially for a kicker with a reputation of a strong leg and a contract to match.

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