The Brandon McManus experiment has been an abject failure. The Denver Broncos gave up a 7th round pick to the New York Giants, in exchange for the beleaguered kicker, who at the time of transaction, was a short-term band-aid, just keeping Matt Prater's seat warm, while he served out his 4-game suspension.
But right before Prater was scheduled to return to the team, John Elway decided in the 11th hour to release Prater and all of his off-the-field drama, and go all-in on McManus.
As a salary cap decision, it was hard to fault Elway, as Prater was due to make $2.117M for the remainder of this year. The Broncos have a lot of decisions to make in the upcoming free agency period, with Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Chris Harris, Jr, Terrance Knighton, among others, all playing in the final year of their contracts. Elway had to make room on the cap.
But on the season, McManus has gone 9/13 on field goal attempts. Yesterday, he went 1/2, but the one he missed was a 33-yard relative chip shot that would have narrowed the Broncos deficit to just one point in the third quarter. Coming on the heels of the Broncos opening drive of the second half, the team needed the momentum.
It's been clear for some time that the coaches have lost faith in McManus. In week 11, the Broncos chose to go for it on 4th down three times. On two of those attempts, the Broncos were within field goal range, inside a dome, but chose instead to roll the dice. Both times they failed to convert and came away with zero points.
But yesterday's performance at home was the straw that broke the camel's back. The Denver Post is reporting that the Broncos will work out veteran free agent kickers, Jay Feely and Connor Barth tomorrow (Tuesday). Last season, Feely, a 14-year NFL veteran, went 30/36 (83.3%) on field goal attempts.
Barth hasn't played since his 2012 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when he went 28/33 on field goal attempts (84.8%). At 28 years old, Barth is 10 years younger than Feely, but nowhere near as experienced. Feely has 10 years of age and experience on Barth.
Whichever player the Broncos might choose, at this point, would absolutely be an upgrade over McManus. Nothing in this world is more fragile than the self-confidence of a young kicker on a cold streak. The Broncos can't afford to continue to bank on such a question mark, now that all the chips are down and they're headed down the stretch.
Check out the sideline reaction to McManus' missed 33-yard FG attempt yesterday. Courtesy of CBS Sports.