Buccaneers Should Be Interested in Matt Prater Following Broncos Release


Dec 8, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater (5) walks off the field after the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 51-28. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

We haven’t seen much of Patrick Murray yet, but the Buccaneers’ rookie kicker is a polarizing subject around Tampa Bay.

On one side, you have the majority of fans, who just wish they had Connor Barth back to give the Bucs some reliability in the kicking game. On the other, you have the patient fans, who are willing to stay the course with a young, strong-legged kicker to see if he can become an asset to the team.

With all that being said, there was one big piece of news this week that has me thinking in a different place all together.

Matt Prater, a 30-year-old Florida native who played his college ball across I-4 at UCF, was released by the Denver Broncos after serving his four game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Prater was charged with a DUI back in 2011, and was then placed into the NFL’s substance abuse program. Before this season began, Prater was drinking while on vacation during the offseason, and that led to his suspension per the program’s rules.

Prater hit on 25 of 26 field goals last season for the Broncos, including a 64 yard field goal, which is the longest in NFL history. He has a strong, consistent leg that teams around the league would salivate over.

I believe one of the teams that should be salivating is Tampa Bay.

While I know that many fans will be hesitant to bring in a guy with a substance abuse problem, the reward far outweighs the risk in my opinion. After being released following his suspension, Prater might not command big money on the free agent market because of his off-the-field issues. He’ll have to prove to the entire league that he won’t become a constant problem away from the game before he gets big money again. That’s where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come in.

Not only would the Bucs be able to afford him, but they could provide him with a great locker room atmosphere, in a market that is very close to home. Tampa Bay looks to find themselves in many close games this year, and the kicking game could be the difference between a few wins and losses. Prater could become an asset to this team, as he may very well have the strongest leg in the entire league. At the very least, that’s what the NFL record books say.

So to recap: Matt Prater should be someone the Buccaneers are interested in bringing in because he could come cheap, he’ll provide stability to the kicking game, and he has the leg strength to hit from almost anywhere in opponent territory. The only question remaining is if Prater himself is ready to join an NFL team again, and if his “substance abuse” problems are code words for alcoholism.