Having moved on from Brandon McManus earlier this offseason, the Broncos will have a new kicker this season for the first time since 2014. The team’s search for his replacement is ongoing, but it could lead them to another familiar face for head coach Sean Payton.
The Saints are currently in the midst of a kicking competition between veteran Wil Lutz and undrafted rookie Blake Grupe. Presuming New Orleans follows standard practice and only keeps one kicker on the team’s final 53-man roster, the loser of that battle could become a trade chip for teams eyeing an upgrade in the kicking game. In the event Grupe wins out and Lutz finds himself on the trade market, the Broncos could be a team to watch, writes NBC Sports’ Peter King.
After waiving Elliott Fry, Denver currently has only one healthy kicker at the moment: Brett Maher. The 33-year-old enjoyed a successful regular season with the Cowboys last year, missing only three field goal attempts and as many extra points. Mahers’ disastrous playoff outings led to Dallas’ decision to move on, however, and leaves him far from assured of a roster spot in the Mile High City.
Lutz, 29, joined the Ravens as a UDFA in 2016, and his performance that summer led to his deal with the Saints. The Georgia State product has held down the team’s kicking duties since then, with the exception of 2021. A groin injury left him sidelined for the entire campaign that year, but he returned last season and played all 17 games. Lutz made all 33 of his extra point attempts, but his 74.2% success rate on field goals was by far the worst of his career. That has left him in a battle for his position deep into August against Grupe, who spent one season at Notre Dame after four at Arkansas State.
NOLA.com’s Jeff Duncan and Troy Renck of Denver7 each confirm that the Broncos are watching the K market as roster cuts approach (Twitter links). Acquiring Lutz in particular would add another former Payton contributor from his lengthy stint as the Saints’ head coach, something Denver has done plenty of already this offseason. A number of veteran free agents are available as well, including Robbie Gould, Mason Crosby and Ryan Succop. For now, the Broncos’ decisions at the position could depend in large part on how the Saints handle the Lutz-Grupe competition.