The Detroit Lions signed former Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater on Tuesday, Oct. 7. The Lions released Alex Henery — the player Prater replaces — a day earlier after he missed three field goals in a 17-14 loss to the visiting Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Detroit Lions Sign Matt Prater
Tim Twentyman of the Lions’ official website says Prater was signed to a one-year deal:
“The Lions are hoping the third time is the charm when it comes to finding a place kicker.
“After rookie Nate Freese and veteran Alex Henery couldn’t get the job done the first five weeks of the season, the Lions are putting their faith in former Pro Bowl kicker Matt Prater to be their guy moving forward.
“The team and Prater came to terms on a one-year deal Tuesday evening after a good workout in Allen Park.
“Prater, who was released by the Broncos last week, right before he was set to come off suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, made 25-of-26 field goal attempts last year and earned a Pro Bowl nod for the effort.
“‘We’ll look at each and every guy and make a determination based on what we sense and feel about him on and off the field,’ head coach Jim Caldwell said Monday when asked about Prater. ‘That’s how we do every guy. That’s suitable to the comfort level of all of us that are involved.’
“The Lions have begun this season converting just 4-of-12 field goal attempts and are 1-of-9 from beyond 40 yards. They’re the first team since the 1999 Chicago Bears to have missed eight field goals in their first five games.
“Henery’s three misses cost the Lions a chance at victory in Sunday’s 17-14 loss to (the) Buffalo (Bills).
“Prater has been a model of consistency over his eight-year career, especially from long range. He owns the best field-goal percentage from 50-plus yards (.778, 21-of-27) in league history among players who started their career after 1970 and have a minimum of 20 attempts.
“Even better, he’s converted 47-of-50 (.940) career field goals in the fourth quarter, and has connected on all four of his attempts in overtime.
“Prater also has a big leg when it comes to kickoffs. He led the NFL last year with 81 touchbacks on kickoffs, though he probably won’t be needed in that aspect with punter Sam Martin very good in those duties for the Lions. He’s very capable, however.”
— NFL (@nfl) October 8, 2014
ESPN Detroit Lions reporter Michael Rothstein describes the Prater signing as both “logical” and “risky” in his Oct. 7 blog:
“The Detroit Lions are signing Matt Prater as their next kicker, a move that is both logical and risky.
“Logical because, statistically, Prater is one of the best kickers out there. He likely would not be available had he not been suspended for the past four games due to a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
“That suspension will put Prater under harsher scrutiny from the league when it comes to testing, and if he tests positive again, colleague Jeff Legwold reported it could be a lengthier suspension than what Prater had this time. For a kicker, that’s a pretty big risk to take.
“By choosing to sign Prater, though, the Lions have to feel comfortable taking that chance. Lions coach Jim Caldwell on Monday said they would evaluate Prater like they would any other player both on and off the field. Caldwell said they would look at the alcohol-related issues that led to his four-game suspension.
“Prater is a no-brainer choice when it comes to on-field performance. He made 96.2 percent of his field goals last season, including 14-of-15 from 40 yards and beyond.
“The other reason the Broncos let go of Prater was due to money. He had a cap number of $3.107 million for this season and $3.25 million for next season, according to Legwold, and those are big numbers for a kicker. While details of Prater’s contract are not known, it is likely he will come to Detroit at a lesser rate because right now he’s out of a job.
“For a team that missed all six field goals between 40 and 49 yards this season, Prater is an extremely attractive option who could end up being a bargain. Kicking indoors has to be enticing to both parties, as well. For kickers, including Prater, it eliminates the variable of wind and weathered turf.”
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Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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