It was something of a punchline among other NFL fans that the Cleveland Browns decided to use their franchise tag on Phil Dawson… last year. This year, when they did it again many scoffed again because the Browns seemingly didn’t have any “real football players” worth franchising. Even as a Cleveland fans who loves Phil Dawson, I kind of get it even if the truth is the Browns were able to lock up any worthwhile free agents other than maybe Peyton Hillis. Additionally, a kicker of Phil Dawson’s age (37) is probably best served with one-year deals as he approaches Jamie Moyer status.
Now Adam Schefter reports via Twitter that the Broncos have tagged their kicker Matt Prater.Broncos will use their franchise tag today on kicker Matt Prater. Suddenly the Browns aren’t alone and we have a trend, albeit a small one.
Prater is 27 years old and hit 76% of his kicks in 2011 including 3 of 4 from 50+ yards. The key stat for Prater is game-winning kicks. He hit one from 37 yards in San Diego in overtime. He hit two the following week to carry the Broncos to a 35-32 victory over Minnesota. Finally he smacked a 51 yarder as Tebow “led the team back” against the Bears.
For all of Tebow’s heroics this season, they would have been for nothing if Prater hadn’t been there to put them away. Now he will be paid pretty handsomely much like Phil Dawson last year and again for this upcoming season.
[Related: “Watching Playoff Football…….. Again”]