After waiting nearly three months with the hope of securing a long-term contract, Broncos kicker Brandon McManus signed his restricted free-agent tender Wednesday, a day before the league’s June 15 deadline, an NFL source confirmed.
ESPN first reported the deal.
The Broncos used a second-round tender on McManus worth about $2.75 million that allowed him to negotiate with other teams but ensured the Broncos would have received a second-round draft pick had he signed an offer sheet they didn’t want to match.
“I would love to be here as long as I can and be on a long-term deal here that gives me some security,” he said last month. “I love Denver and I love the fan base here. I would love to be here for four years so why not see what I can do?”
The Broncos’ other tendered exclusive rights and restricted free agents all signed by early April. McManus, an undrafted kicker out of Temple, didn’t get the long-term deal he had hoped for, but one remains possible.
In 2014, McManus was acquired in a trade with the Giants to serve as a replacement for veteran Matt Prater, who had been suspended four games. Then a relatively unproven kicker who had bounced on and off the rosters of the Colts and Giants in his first eight months in the league, McManus impressed early with a perfect kicking record in his first three games as a Bronco. The team subsequently released Prater after he served his ban.
McManus struggled with accuracy late in the season and temporarily lost his job to Connor Barth, but re-earned it time for the team’s Super Bowl 50 run. In a year when the defense starred, the leg of McManus proved vital in boosting an offense with his 125 total points.
McManus finished the 2015 season tied for 15th in overall field-goal percentage (85.7 percent) and 10th in both extra-point percentage (97.2 percent) and total points. During the playoffs, McManus went 10-of-10 for the second-most field goals all-time in a single postseason.
Last season McManus remained nearly as consistent by making 85.3 percent of his field-goal attempts (14th) and 97.0 percent of his PATs (ninth) for a total of 119 points (17th). He also booted eight field goals from 50 yards or more, third-most in franchise history.
Playoffs included, McManus has recorded an 84.8 FG percentage (78-of-92) as a Bronco to surpass Prater as the team’s most accurate kicker history (minimum 20 kicks).
His consistency was enough, he hoped, to provide him the security he lacked early in his career.
During the NFL draft, however, general manager John Elway strongly hinted McManus would not be extended more than the a one-year contract.
Not yet, anyway.
Although he’s faith in his kicker was rarely questioned, Elway has a history of getting star players (quarterback Peyton Manning, linebacker DeMarcus Ware) to take pay cuts and of re-signing players to “hometown discounts” before they hit the open market as free agents. Cornerback Chris Harris did in 2014, and defensive end Derek Wolfe did in 2016.
McManus participated in the Broncos’ offseason workout program despite not having signed his contract. He wanted to be seen, he said. He wanted to work toward a special-teams captainship.
“I never was a captain in high school or in college. As much as I was a leader on the field, I guess vocally sometimes the kicker position is difficult,” he said. “I think in the NFL it’s valued a lot more than it is at the other levels. Maybe my consistency over the last couple years (will help). A lot of the top-level guys have a lot of respect for me and ask me a lot of questions for things. Hopefully I’ll be able to get that honor this year.”