Last month, Denver coach John Fox suggested K Matt Prater hadn't worn out his welcome in Denver, saying, "He's part of our family."
Then, a contrite Prater apologized and pledged to stay out of clubs to avoid the temptation to drink again, which could result in a yearlong ban. His suspension is costing Prater $750,000 of his $3 million base salary. There's the rub.
The Broncos are paying big bucks for their specialists — Prater will count $3.812 million against this year's cap and punter/holder Britton Colquitt another $3.25 million.
Current K Brandon McManus signed a deal that would pay him $420,000 this year and $510,000 in 2015, when Prater's base salary jumps to $3.25 million.
That's no small consideration for a team that has several stars coming up for big long-term contracts, including Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Chris Harris Jr.
McManus wants to stay here with them. He sees Denver not as a stopover but as his destination.
So far he's turning this into a decision for the Broncos, but the life of a kicker can change with one missed kick. Prater has two more games to serve and the Broncos take on Seattle and Arizona, both teams with good defense that could keep those contest close - meaning McManus could have a chance to play a big role.