The Broncos placed their $12.82 million franchise tag on Demaryius Thomas in March and have until 2 p.m. on July 15 to secure a long-term deal. If not, Thomas can sign the one-year contract and play on the guaranteed tag this season. Elway sits two-for-two in these situations, having worked out deals with kicker Matt Prater and left tackle Ryan Clady. Going three-for-three represents a challenge even for a former top Major League Baseball prospect like Elway. The sides began discussing an extension a year ago but have been unable to bridge the gap. Thomas ranks among the game's elite. The Broncos have said they want to sign him long term. However, they would like it at a fair cost that represents a compromise by both sides.
The author says: the Broncos are attempting, it appears, to find a balance between respect and restraint. They know Thomas is a playmaker. The also know Thomas is better than Mike Wallace, the game's second-highest paid receiver with $30 million guaranteed on his contract. They also realize that the entire industry views the contract of top-paid wideout Calvin Johnson, whom Thomas has said he believes he's better than, as an outlier. It has tangled the web with Dez Bryant's talks with the Cowboys; he's in the same franchise-tag situation as Thomas. Thomas is third on our WR list but his ADP shows he's been the fourth WR off the board at the position. We project him for 106 catches and over 1,500 yards.
The Denver Broncos have switched kickers again, waiving first-year pro Brandon McManus and signing Connor Barth, who hasn't kicked in an NFL game since 2012.
Barth, 28, won a competition with 38-year-old Jay Feely at the Broncos complex in suburban Denver on Tuesday.
The Broncos were in the market for a new kicker after McManus clanked a 33-yard field goal off the right upright in Denver's 39-36 win over Miami on Sunday. That came on the heels of a game in St. Louis where they passed up field goal attempts of 54 and 55 yards indoors.
McManus' longest field goal was from 44 yards, and he didn't really get the chance for a pressure kick for the AFC West-leading Broncos.
While solid on kickoffs, McManus was 9 for 13 on field goal attempts. His 69.2 percent conversion rate was dead last among NFL kickers, ranking ahead of only Nate Freese and Alex Henery, both of whom were released by Detroit earlier this season.
Barth, who spent four of his five seasons in Tampa Bay, has plenty of experience in crunch time, although not for a team with quite the Super Bowl aspirations of the Broncos, the story said. Barth has made 84 percent of his career field goal tries. He was the most accurate kicker in Buccaneers history but missed all of last season after tearing the Achilles tendon in his right foot during a charity basketball game. He returned this year but was beaten out by rookie Patrick Murray. The Broncos, of course, kept McManus over Matt Prater who was suspended the first four games of the season and is now with Detroit. Barth has a ton of fantasy potential for those looking to upgrade.
Kicker Matt Prater beat out Jay Feely and Connor Barth during a three-way kick-off Tuesday at the Lion's Allen Park headquarters, according to an ESPN report.
In eight seasons, the last seven with the Denver Broncos, Prater made 81.6 percent of his field goals. He went 25-26 last season, including an NFL record 64-yarder. For his career, he's 21 for 27 from 50 yards and beyond.
He was released by the Broncos last week, days before his four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy was set to end.
Prater replaces Nate Freese and Alex Henery, who combined to go a league-worst 4-of-12 during the first five weeks of the season. Only one other team has more than two misses. Prater should be a very solid, weekly play as your fantasy kicker, especially with the Lions banged up on offense and possibly missing WR Calvin Johnson and RBs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell.