The Denver Broncos will be without kicker Matt Prater for the first four games. The NFL has suspended Prater for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Mike Klis of The Denver Post reported that the league is expected to announce the suspension Monday.
Coach John Fox and his coaching staff must find a new kicker to fill in for Prater until he returns. The Broncos won't be able to find a good kicker available through free agency at the moment. However, one NFL team is likely to cut a kicker soon.
The Kansas City Chiefs currently have competition at kicker between Ryan Succop and rookie Cairo Santos. It is doubtful the Chiefs would go into the regular season with two kickers as part of the 53-man roster. One of these kickers should be available soon.
Succop, known as "Mr. Irrelevant" for being the final draft selection in 2009, has been in the league for five seasons and kicked in every game for the Chiefs since his arrival. He's made 81 percent of his field goals, with his longest being a 54-yarder in 2011. He has been perfect on extra-point attempts, making all 160 in his career.
Succop, who signed a five-year $13.75 million contract before the 2012 season, is set to make $1.95 million this year. If the Chiefs like what they see in Santos, they would likely go with him over Succop to save some money.
Which kicker should the Denver Broncos go after to replace Matt Prater for four games?
Succop has made all three of his preseason field goals. Five of his seven kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks. If he ends up staying with the Chiefs, the Broncos should still consider Santos, who was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Santos, a Tulane product, has yet to miss a kick this preseason, connecting on three field goals and four extra-point attempts. He's also been used on nine kickoffs, three of them going for touchbacks.
Although there is little to go off of when evaluating Santos, Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub praised him in an interview with The Kansas City Star, calling Santos an "NFL-caliber kicker." He went on to say that he thinks Santos will play in the NFL, whether in Kansas City or elsewhere.
Whomever Kansas City decides to release will be Denver's best option to have fill in for Prater. If Santos or Succop gets cut, expect the Denver Broncos to reach out and have him serve as a replacement.