Super Bowl 50 chapter is officially closed as Broncos surprisingly axe McManus

May 23, 2023, 10:07 AM | Updated: 11:04 am

Brandon McManus...

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away. And Sean Payton wielded the broom.

On the morning the Broncos began Phase 3 of OTAs, the team released kicker Brandon McManus. The move severed the link with the last player left from the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 triumph.

The move will come with a post-June 1 designation. This means the Broncos will save $3.75 million on this year’s salary cap. They will have dead-money charges of $1,231,250 on the cap for the next two years.

McManus himself shared the news Thursday morning, adding there would be “more to come in the following days.”

With that move, the Broncos appear poised for a clean sweep of major special-teams roles.

In March, the team waived punter Corliss Waitman, replacing him with Riley Dixon. They let long snapper Jacob Bobenmoyer walk, keeping last year’s four-week fill-in, Mitchell Fraboni, in the role. And with the signings of cornerback Tremon Smith and wide receiver Marquez Callaway and the use of a second-round pick on Marvin Mims Jr., the Broncos have multiple options at punt and kickoff returner that could nudge Montrell Washington to the door.

Payton cites Hall-of-Fame coach Bill Parcells as a primary influence on his philosophy. And one aspect of Parcells’ turnaround approach is to attempt an immediate impact on special teams.

And McManus — a special-teams captain for much of his time as a Bronco — struggled last year.

Denver had one of the league’s worst special teams units in the NFL. That wasn’t anything new; the Broncos have struggled in that phase since Super Bowl 50.

But what was different was that McManus didn’t prop up the unit. Instead, he had the worst season since 2014, his first year with the club that saw him replaced on placekicks at midseason by Connor Barth.

McManus beat Barth in a competition the following summer and had placekicking duties on lockdown thereafter. He was perfect during the Broncos’ run to Super Bowl 50. He hit all 10 of his field-goal attempts and three extra-point tries during the team’s wins over Pittsburgh, New England and Carolina.

The Temple product hit at least 80 percent of his field-goal tries in all but one season from 2015 through 2021. But last season, his success rate dropped to 77.8 percent. He also missed two extra points.

And his field-goal percentage drop couldn’t solely be attributed to missing “Hail Mary” tries of 64 and 63 yards at Seattle and Baltimore, respectively. Last year, McManus ranked 28th among 34 kickers (minimum 10 attempts) in field-goal success rate from inside 50 yards.

Four months after the close of that season, Payton and the Broncos decided they could do better.


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