What is the price of peace of mind?
For an NFL coach, it’s rare to have a player that you just simply don’t have to worry about... at all. No coaching really needed. No pep talk, no need to worry about a meltdown or a letdown. Just let them go out there, do their thing, and then let them do it all over again when their name is called.
That’s exactly what Detroit Lions head coach has in veteran kicker Matt Prater, who comes in at No. 7 on our list of the Lions’ 2020 best salary cap bargains.
Reminder: This list is only based on 2020 cap hits, not the entirety of the contract. Additionally, no 2020 rookies are included in the list, since several remain unsigned.
7. Matt Prater
2020 cap hit: $3.9 million
2020 cap hit ranking: 9th among kickers
Ever since Prater landed in Detroit, Lions fans have rested easy when the team lines up for a field goal. After Detroit moved on from long-time kicker Jason Hanson, they struggled to find a replacement early in the 2014 season. Nate Freese and Alex Henery combined to go 4-for-12 in the first five games of the season before Prater fell into their lap.
Since then, he’s been one of the most consistent kickers in the NFL. Since 2015, Prater has made 86.7 percent of his field goals, good for eighth over that span (minimum 50 attempts).
Consistency is the name of the game when it comes to kicking, and Prater can also bring it when it comes to long field goals. Last year, Prater made seven-of-eight from 50+ yards and since 2015, he’s made over 78 percent from that range—well, well above the league average of 60.4 percent.
If we’re talking about recent statistics, Prater’s cap hit ranking of ninth is probably just about where he belongs. Last year, his 83.9 percent field goal percentage (his lowest since 2014) put him 14th in the league, but Prater has been consistent enough over the past 11 years, that teams should be willing to pay a little extra for the peace of mind knowing Prater isn’t likely to struggle mentally like some young kickers often do.
One thing to keep an eye out for, though, is if there is any drastic change in 2020. Prater will not have his long-time holder in Sam Martin on the team anymore, and with a shortened offseason program, he may not quite be in sync with whoever wins the Lions’ punter battle this year at the beginning of the regular season.
Top 10 Detroit Lions salary cap values for 2020: