Wil Lutz

Broncos To Re-Sign K Wil Lutz

Wil Lutz had a three-year deal in place with the Jaguars earlier today, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Instead, the veteran kicker has elected to remain with the Broncos on a two-year agreement, Mike Klis of 9News reports in an update. Lutz will stay on a two-year deal worth just more than $8MM, per the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson.

This marks the second straight offseason the Broncos and Jaguars are intertwined at kicker. Denver’s release of Brandon McManus prompted a Jacksonville offer. The Jaguars only gave McManus a one-year contract, opening their kicker position for next season. Lutz has worked with Sean Payton on two occasions now, and the partnership will continue.

Denver acquired Lutz from New Orleans just before last season, scrapping Brett Maher plans. The Broncos struggled in the red zone at points in Wilson’s second season, and Lutz became a key part of the team’s five-game midseason win streak. Lutz memorably missed a game-winning field goal in Buffalo, only for a Bills offside infraction to give him another chance. Overall, Lutz made 88.2% of his FG tries; that marked Lutz’s best connect rate since his 2019 Pro Bowl campaign.

The Lutz pursuit is interesting due to Riley Patterson‘s presence back on the Jags’ offseason roster. Jacksonville’s primary kicker in 2022, Patterson bounced between Detroit and Cleveland last year. The Lions booted Patterson once again after giving the job back to Michael Badgley; the Jags gave Patterson a reserve/futures contract in January.

The Broncos have enjoyed kicker continuity on par with the Packers’ quarterback timeline. The team only employed three primary kickers (Jason Elam, Matt Prater, McManus) from 1993-2022. Lutz’s age (29) and relationship with Payton qualifies him as a potential long-term option, as the two worked together for six years in New Orleans.

Mutual Interest Between Broncos, K Wil Lutz

Wil Lutz was one of many former Saints who joined head coach Sean Payton with the Broncos last offseason. The pair could continue their relationship in 2024 and beyond.

Denver has no plans on franchise tagging the veteran kicker, Chris Tomasson of the Denver Gazette reports. There is, however, a mutual interest for the sides to work out a multi-year agreement, he adds. Lutz came to Denver via trade from the Saints in late August, setting him up to handle kicking duties in the Mile High City.

The Broncos moved on from longtime kicker Brandon McManus, leaving open the door to a competition. Lutz’s arrival solidified the position, though, and he appeared in every game for the team. The 29-year-old experienced a rebound from his recent performances during his debut Denver campaign. Lutz connected on 30 of 34 field goal attempts (including three of five 50-plus yard tries), good for a success rate of 88.2%.

That marked Lutz’s highest conversion rate since his Pro Bowl campaign in 2019. It was also a better figure than any which McManus posted during his nine years in Denver or his performance with the Jaguars in 2023. In addition to his field goal success, Lutz went 29-for-31 on extra point attempts. As a result, it comes as little surprise both player and team would be willing to work out a deal in this case.

Lutz made $1.7MM in 2023 as he played out the end of his most recent Saints contract. His most lucrative pact earned to date was the five-year New Orleans deal he inked in 2019 averaging $4.05MM per year. After a strong showing last season, a raise will no doubt be coming his way soon, provided talks on a new deal gain traction ahead of free agency. It will be interesting to see the price point the Broncos are willing to reach to avoid the risk of losing Lutz on the open market in March.

Broncos To Acquire K Wil Lutz From Saints, Release Brett Maher

12:45pm: In a corresponding (and unsurprising) move, Maher will be released, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. After losing out on the Broncos’ job, Maher will now need to move quickly to find another opportunity as teams sort out their kicking positions amidst roster cutdowns.

11:20am: The previously rumored Sean Payton-Wil Lutz reunion is happening. The Saints are sending the Pro Bowl kicker to the Broncos, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. New Orleans will receive a 2024 seventh-round pick for the veteran specialist, 9News’ Mike Klis adds.

Denver cut nine-year kicker Brandon McManus early this offseason and had gone into training camp with an Elliott FryBrett Maher competition. After a Fry injury, Maher finished out the preseason on his own. But the team had been looking for another option. Lutz loomed as the most logical choice, assuming the Saints were OK going with a rookie UDFA at kicker. With Blake Grupe winning the job, Lutz is now en route to Colorado.

This marks the second trade between Payton and his former team this year. The Saints sent tight end Adam Trautman to the Broncos during the draft. Despite Greg Dulcich‘s presence, Trautman has worked as Denver’s starting tight end. It appears the Broncos have not seen enough from Maher, with Lutz set to resume kicking under Payton.

Lutz, 29, has been the Saints’ kicker since 2016. Payton’s final New Orleans season did not feature Lutz, who suffered an offseason injury that led to four kickers — one of them Maher — kicking for the team that year. Although Lutz earned Pro Bowl acclaim in 2019, he has not been as accurate since. Coming off a groin injury that required two surgeries — the second after a setback — Lutz made a career-low 74.2% of his field goal tries last season. In 2020, Lutz connected on just more than 82% of his attempts. He cleared an 86% make rate from 2017-19, earning an extension for his early-career work. Lutz did fare well during training camp this year, however, per NOLA.com’s Jeff Duncan.

The Saints, naturally, reworked Lutz’s contract this offseason, reducing his salary from $3.7MM to $2.2MM. The adjustment gave Lutz a $500K signing bonus. He is tied to a $1.25MM base salary in the final year of this contract. The Saints will eat more than $1MM in dead money by making this trade, but they will have a rookie-contract kicker in place.

McManus had been the Broncos’ kicker since 2014, but Payton signed off on making him a post-June 1 cut. As the Broncos used some of those savings to sign Frank Clark, their Fry-Maher competition had underwhelmed. Both players missed kicks in their first preseason game, and Maher is coming off one of the worst playoff games a kicker has ever gone through. The veteran followed up his four-PAT-miss wild-card game by missing another in the Cowboys’ divisional-round loss to the 49ers. It is safe to expect Maher to be cut before the 3pm CT deadline today.

Broncos Eyeing K Wil Lutz?

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 GrupePresuming 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.

Details On Saints’ Recent Restructures

We reported a bit this week on some of the Saints’ recent cap-clearing moves as they reworked the contracts of offensive linemen Ryan Ramczyk and Erik McCoy, as well as kicker Wil Lutz. We’ve been provided a bit more detail on the financial moves New Orleans has made this week and how it will impact them in the future.

In regard to Ramczyk’s new deal, the Saints reportedly added a voidable year to his contract, according to Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.football. Ramczyk’s cap hit for this year is now at $11.1MM, a reduction of about $10MM, but with cap hits from 2024-27 of $27.03MM, $28.03MM, $25.26MM, and $2.58MM (dead money), the team will likely have to restructure his contract more in the future. His base salaries from 2024-26 are $17MM, $18MM, and $19MM, respectively, giving the Saints some flexibility to restructure. His contract makes him very difficult to trade in the near future, as well, as New Orleans would be facing about $43MM in dead money to have him dealt.

Underhill also provided some details about Lutz’s new deal. His contract now has a base salary of $1.25MM, freeing up $1.5MM of cap space. He will receive a per game active bonus of $26K for a potential season total of $450K, and he can earn $750K in incentives based on field goal percentage and total points.

Additionally, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported yesterday that the team has also restructured safety Tyrann Mathieu‘s contract in order to clear another $4.67MM in cap space for next season. Underhill added that they have also added a voidable year to the veteran’s contract. His cap numbers will now stand at $4.23MM in 2023, $12.07MM in 2024, and $7.30MM of dead money in 2025.

There’s lots to speculate about where this cap space could be going. They could be attempting to make room to accommodate taking on the contract of quarterback Derek Carr, as they were once viewed as frontrunners to land his services, or they could be gearing up to make a run at cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Regardless, the Saints are building some room as they deal with their annual troubles with cap space.

Saints Rework Ryan Ramczyk, Erik McCoy, Wil Lutz Contracts

The Saints have begun their annual midwinter trudge toward cap compliance. They reworked two of their starting offensive linemen’s contracts, along with Wil Lutz‘s, in recent days to create a chunk of cap space.

New Orleans adjusted Ryan Ramczyk‘s contract to create $10.4MM in cap room, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, doing so not long after they adjusted Erik McCoy‘s deal (Twitter link). The McCoy restructure created $8MM in space, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

This business-as-usual effort from the NFC South team also included Lutz lowering his cap number by $1.5MM, Yates adds (on Twitter). Altogether, the Saints have created just more than $20MM in cap space. As of Thursday morning, OverTheCap slots New Orleans as being just more than $35MM over the 2023 salary ceiling. More work is coming, but GM Mickey Loomis certainly has extensive experience in making these climbs.

The latest batch of restructures involved moving $12.92MM of Ramczyk’s base salary into a signing bonus, per Yates. Ramczyk signed a five-year, $96MM deal back in 2021; that contract will now produce higher cap numbers after 2023. From 2024-26, the acclaimed right tackle’s three cap figures ($27MM, $28MM, $25.2MM) will be in the top 10 for non-quarterbacks, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap passes along (via Twitter). Though, various deals around the league this year will likely change that. McCoy’s through-2027 extension will feature a cap spike from $4.7MM this year to $13.7MM in 2024.

While Loomis’ 2021 restructure project involved moving from more than $100MM over the cap to a place where the team could use its franchise tag on Marcus Williams, displaying the veteran GM’s acumen here, the team is among those pursuing Derek Carr. The Saints were the only team to host Carr during the Raiders’ brief (and strictly controlled) trade sweepstakes, but the Saints would have needed to rework his contract to greenlight a trade. Carr refused to waive his no-trade clause and is now a free agent, having made the Jets his first FA visit. The Saints will need to fire up more of their February-March cap craftsmanship to create room for a Carr contract, in the event they are still in the running when the quarterback prepares to make his final call.

Saints K Wil Lutz Receives Clearance To Return

Drew Brees‘ retirement led to four quarterbacks making starts for the Saints last season. Wil Lutz‘s injury produced similar instability. The Saints used four kickers in Lutz’s absence in 2021. Their 2022 outlook at the position appears clearer.

Lutz revealed on Instagram he has received clearance to return to workouts. This will be a welcome sight for the Saints, who used three kickers (Brett Maher, Brian Johnson, Aldrick Rosas) in at least four games, with Maher’s eight leading the way, and Cody Parkey in the other.

A groin injury led to Lutz’s absence. The veteran specialist had an opportunity to return near the midseason point, when the Saints opened his IR-return window. But a setback led to Lutz being shut down for the season. Lutz, 27, said he has undergone two surgeries in the past year.

While the Maher-Johnson-Rosas-Parkey quartet made 25 of 30 field goals, the hired legs combined to go 31-for-38 on extra points. Even while playing exclusively in the longer-range PAT era, Lutz has only missed seven (253-for-260) in his five-season run as New Orleans’ primary kicker. His return stands to help a Saints team that looks better than last year’s iteration — partially because of injured players’ returns. Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas are in line to join Lutz in reclaiming their previous roles with the team.

Lutz, who received a Pro Bowl invite in 2019, is still tied to the five-year extension he signed in March of that year. The Georgia State alum is under contract for two more seasons; he is set to count $5.57MM against New Orleans’ cap in 2022. The Saints’ coalition of 2021 kickers is gone, but the team did sign UDFA John Parker Romo this offseason.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/3/22

Here are Monday’s activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: OT Mike Remmers (remains on IR)

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: RB Raymond Calais (remains on IR)

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Saints’ Wil Lutz Done For Year

Wil Lutz will not return from the injured reserve list after all. On Tuesday, the Saints kicker announced that he has suffered a setback in his recovery that will shut him down for the rest of 2021.

2021 has been filled with adversity, personally, but with adversity comes an exciting challenge,” Lutz wrote (Twitter link). “Unfortunately I had a setback during the rehab process that has forced me to shift my focus to being 100 percent healthy for the long term and shut it down for the season. I want nothing more than to be out there with my teammates helping us win games, and I look forward to doing that when healthy! Thank you to the best fan base in the country for the support and well wishes, we’ll be back stronger than ever.”

Lutz has served as New Orleans’ primary kicker since 2016. All in all, he’s made 86.6% of his field goal tries across his five-year career, positioning him as one of the best kickers in the game. He’s also made 253 out of 260 extra point attempts in the elongated XP era. Unfortunately, he aggravated his groin injury in early August and hasn’t improved over the last ~10 weeks.

First, the Saints turned to Aldrick Rosas, who went 1-4 on field goal tries. He was later replaced by Cody Parkey, who missed two extra field goal tries. That led them to undrafted rookie kicker Brian Johnson, who joined the team two weeks ago and just sank both of his FG tries to beat the Seahawks.

Saints’ Wil Lutz Designated For Return

Wil Lutz has been designated for return from the injured reserve list (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). It’s not clear if he’ll be ready for this week’s game against the Seahawks, but the Saints expect to see him in the next 21 days.

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Lutz has served as New Orleans’ primary kicker since 2016. All in all, he’s made 86.6% of his field goal tries across his five-year career, positioning him as one of the best kickers in the game. He’s also made 253 out of 260 extra point attempts in the elongated XP era. Unfortunately, he aggravated a groin issue in early August, leaving the Saints to scramble. First, they turned to Aldrick Rosas, who went 1-4 on field goal tries. He’s since been replaced by veteran Cody Parkey.

Lutz, 27, is still attached to a five-year, $20.25MM extension he signed in March 2019. He’ll aim to resume his post this week when the Saints face the Seahawks in Seattle.