Today we continue our 2018 roster review with a review of Lions kicker Matt Prater.
Outlook before 2018:
Matt Prater has long been ole reliable for the Detroit Lions, making the field goal kicking process as close to automatic as it can be in his five years with the team.
Entering the fifth, expectations were no different from before: boot that ball through the goalposts an wow us with his cannon for a leg.
Actual role in 2018:
2018 Stats: 28/32 field goal attempts, 30/30 extra point attempts
Prater did just that, although not as dominant as he has in the past. While Prater was still a shining model of consistency, it gradually became clear from games and from watching him in warm-ups that he is on the down-trending part of his career. His leg—while still absolutely a cannon and respectably powerful for an NFL kicker—simply isn’t as strong as it used to be.
That’ not to knock on Prater or say that he should be out the door, but the hesitation to trot him out for field goals in the 55+ yard range this year spoke for his abilities.
Outlook for 2019
Contract Status: Under contract
While Prater still has two years left on his contract, the Lions should most definitely bring in a kicker who’s not just a training camp body and will actually challenge Prater for the job. After all, there’s no telling if Prater has lost a bit more power this offseason, and the last thing you want as a Lions fan is being unprepared once more at the kicker position (remember 2014?)
Should Prater not hold onto the job in training camp, the Lions could save $1.6 million in cap by cutting him, and who knows, maybe if he’s still ole reliable he’d be worth a trade to a kicker-needy team. Either way, take a moment while reading this to appreciate the consistency he has brought to this team, making the field goal kicking process an afterthought for the last five years.