Should the Bengals Sign Matt Prater?


Should the Bengals consider signing Matt Prater? Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Today the Broncos decided to release K Matt Prater.

Prater had been the Broncos full-time kicker since 2008, but was suspended for the first four games of this season after violating the league’s substance abuse policy; an alcohol related issue, which included Prater’s DUI arrest.

The Broncos chose to move on from Prater, which probably had a lot to do with upcoming salary cap figure (about $3.1 and $4.1 this year and in 2015 respectively).  Ironically, with all the upcoming players the Broncos will want to re-sign, Prater’s suspension came at an opportune time for the team as it gave them a chance to seek a quality kicker elsewhere.

Over the past six years, Matt Prater has become known for his accurate and powerful leg.  Prater led the league in touchbacks the past two seasons, which of course may have been aided by his kicking in Denver, but still an impressive stat nonetheless.  Here is how Prater’s kickoff stats compare to Mike Nugent’s over the past few years.

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Prater has also proven he possesses a big leg when kicking field goals.  He broke the NFL’s record for longest kick last year after converting a 64-yard field goal against the Titans.  This while proving he’s an accurate kicker other than his down year in 2011.  Here’s a comparison of Matt Prater and Mike Nugent since 2010 (when Nugent took over in Cincinnati in 2010).

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It could bring up an interesting debate for Cincinnati. Thus far in 2014, Nugent has been less than stellar.  He’s technically 7/11, but one of his attempts was blocked through no fault of his own.  Taking that kick away, Nugent converted 5/5 against Baltimore, 1/4 against Atlanta, and 1/1 against Tennessee.  Nugent’s year could be seen as a down year or his game against the Falcons could be seen as an aberration.  Either way, Nugent hasn’t been anything but an average to below average kicker for the Bengals whereas Prater offers more potential in the long game–something Nugent has struggled leading the Bengals to shy away from these attempts– while having shown he can perform amongst the league’s best.

It’s an intriguing option for the Bengals.  If they were to sign Prater and release Mike Nugent, the Bengals’ only financial penalty would be having $100,000 in dead money this year; Nugent is scheduled to be a free agent in 2015.  The Bengals are no strangers to giving players second-chances and have often found success with such situations–see Vontaze Burficta and Adam Jones.  It’s unlikely that Prater would have another year like last year (96.2% conversion rate), but he certainly could provide the Bengals more opportunities at long kicks while matching the production of Nugent and decreasing the kickoff returns the Bengals would face.

Let us know what you think in the comments section below.