It looked like Brett Maher had won the Denver Broncos kicking job. But Sean Payton wasn't done acquiring former New Orleans Saints.
Payton leaned on a name from his past, trading with New Orleans for kicker Wil Lutz, according to multiple reports. The Broncos had previously traded for Saints tight end Adam Trautman. And of course, the Broncos traded with the Saints to acquire Payton. Denver traded a 2024 seventh-round pick to the Saints for Lutz, according to Mike Klis of 9News in Denver.
Maher was cut by the Broncos after the Lutz trade. He missed two field goals in the team's preseason opener, one of which was blocked, but rebounded after that. Still, Payton clearly had more confidence in Lutz. Maher has had a rough 2023. Back in January, Maher missed an NFL record four extra points for the Dallas Cowboys in a playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many teams are evaluating their kickers, and Maher will get some interest, though his late-season struggles with Dallas will be a factor.
Lutz had six good seasons with the Saints. He was a Pro Bowler in 2019, when Payton was his coach. He has made 84.6% of his field-goal attempts throughout his career and should thrive in the thin air of Empower Field at Mile High. For the Saints, the job apparently goes to rookie Blake Grupe.
The Broncos surprisingly released longtime kicker Brandon McManus this offseason. They had a kicking competition between Elliott Fry and Maher, which was settled when Fry got injured and was released. It took a while to figure out who Payton would be happy with at kicker, but a trade for his old player settled that issue.