Originally posted on BroncoTalk  |  Last updated 3/5/12

Matt Prater and Britton Colquitt in 2010 (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Confirming an earlier report, the Denver Broncos placed their franchise tag on kicker Matt Prater today, extending the would-be free agent’s contract through 2012.

“He is a very talented kicker and an important part of our team,” Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said in a statement. “This gives us the ability to continue working on a long-term agreement with Matt.”

A long-term deal isn’t a bad idea; Prater has excelled in his six years with the Broncos. He currently ranks second in team history in field goal percentage (80.4% / 90-of-112), just behind franchise leader Jason Elam (80.6% / 395-of-490).

But most impressive is Prater’s clutch play. In 2011, he made four game-winning field goals and connected on 30-of-30 extra-point attempts. He owns the NFL’s best field goal percentage from 50 or more yards since 1970 (75.0% / 12-of-16) and has converted on 28-of-29 (.966) career field goals in the fourth quarter or overtime.

The Broncos rewarded Prater’s production with a top-dollar contract — a one-year deal that averages the salaries of the NFL’s top five kickers. Now they need to reward him with a deal that will keep him in Denver long-term.

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