Matt Prater, the record-breaking NFL kicker, has been released by the Denver Broncos.

Matt Prater Released

The Broncos have decided to cut ties with Prater just as his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s drug policy is about to end. The Denver franchise announced the decision in a statement released Friday.

Parting ways with Matt Prater—the longest-tenured player on our roster—was a very difficult football decision,” Broncos General Manager John Elway said. “On behalf of our entire organization, I want to thank Matt for his seven seasons with the Broncos and wish him well going forward.”

Broncos coach John Fox weighed in on the decision after practice Friday. “Any time you make football decisions in an organization, especially [someone] that’s been with you for a period of time like Matt, it’s always difficult,” he told ESPN. “It’s always a football decision, what’s going to give us the best chance in our opinion. We wish Matt nothing but the best moving forward.”

Instead of returning Prater to the team, Elway and the Broncos have opted to stick with Brandon McManus, who the team picked up from the New York Giants back in August. Three games into the season, McManus has made all eight extra point tries and all three field goal attempts. His 16 kickoffs have resulted in 14 touchbacks.

“Brandon McManus has earned the opportunity to continue kicking for our team with how well he’s played to start the season,” Elway said. “He has a very strong leg and we have confidence in him on both field goals and kickoffs.”

McManus, who learned the news Friday morning, was happy to hear that he would be the Broncos’ starting place kicker going forward. “Definitely excited they put the faith, had the confidence in me to keep me here,” the athlete said. “I just wanted to perform well whether I was going to be here after the four weeks or another place, so I’m excited with the decisions.”

Prater, who was also previously suspended on a 2011 DUI charge, was the most accurate kicker in Denver Broncos’ history. His 64-yard field goal last year was the longest on record. With the Broncos releasing him, he’s now a free agent in the league.

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