Last season four of the Broncos’ eight regular-season victories ended with a Matt Prater field goal splitting the uprights.
On Monday, the team locked up its clutch kicker with a four-year contract, Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway announced on Twitter.
“Happy to announce we have signed kicker Matt Prater to a new four-year deal,” Elway said. “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.”
Prater, whose four game-winning kicks on the last play of the game in 2011 tied for the second most in a season in NFL history, converted 19-of-25 field goals and all 30 extra point attempts last season. He led the team with 87 total points and finished first in the NFL with his 70.1 touchback percentage on kickoffs.
“It’s something I’ve been working for since I was a little kid,” Prater said. “I’m super excited and very thankful to Mr. Bowlen, Mr. Elway, and the entire organization.”
In 2011, Prater became one of just three players in league history with at least four game-winning field goals in overtime or as time expired in regulation. He earned AFC Special Teams Player of the Month honors for the final month of the season after ending games with field goals in Weeks 12-14 to become the first player to kick a walk-off field goal in three consecutive games since 1998.
His three overtime field goals tied for the most in NFL history for a single season and his overtime kicks (52 yds. at Miami and 51 yds. vs. Chicago) tie for the third and fifth-longest overtime field goals in NFL history.
“I think it will make it easier just so I can really focus on just kicking and nothing else, nothing off the field or anything like that,” he said. “I can just focus on kicking so I think that will be good for me.”
Prater earned AFC Special Teams Player of the Week following his historic feat against the Bears in Week 14 when he tied his career long with a 59-yard field goal with three seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game. He then won the game with a 51-yard kick in overtime to join Mike Vanderjagt as the only two players in NFL history to kick a 50+ yard field goal with less than a minute remaining in regulation and convert a 50+ game-winning field goal in the extra session.
“Matt is a guy who’s been with a couple different teams and found his niche here,” Special Teams Coordinator Jeff Rodgers said. “He’s done a good job. If you had to say what can he hang his hat on, the two things he does the best are his leg strength and his ability to make kicks last year when we needed him. That’s a good feeling going forward. Any time you get a guy who you trust, you certainly want to have that continue. Finding out that you have a kicker you can count on certainly is something you want to have year in and year out.”
The fifth-year kicker has made 91-of-116 field goals (78.4 pct.) in his career along with 130-of-132 PAT attempts for 403 total points. He ranks second in the league with 114 touchbacks on kickoffs since 2008, his first full season in the NFL.
Prater is looking forward to returning to work with long snapper Lonie Paxton and holder Britton Colquitt. He said he’s kept in touch with them throughout the process but has missed being able to spend time with them.
“Those guys are the best in the business,” Prater said. “I love working with those guys and I actually missed just being here and hanging out with those guys. I’m excited to get back and working with them.”
With a long-term contract inked, Prater is ready to focus on the upcoming season with no distractions about the future.
“I can’t even put into words how I feel right now – how excited and thankful I am,” Prater said. “We have a great group of guys from top to bottom from the head coach down so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
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