The Broncos surprisingly released kicker Brandon McManus earlier this week. It arguably shouldn’t have been a surprise.
“Ultimately, you’re constantly looking at what’s in the best interest for your team,” head coach Sean Payton told reporters. “A lot of the time, money and what your ‘musts’ are come into it. You guys know this better than anyone, the transactions continue here from now until training camp. There may be a player of two that we are still looking to sign. We factored a lot of that in and then we made that decision.”
By releasing McManus, the Broncos avoided $3,650,000 in salary, and created that same amount in cap space.
Beyond the salary, there’s another element that potentially influenced the decision. Payton is a disciple of Bill Parcells, and Parcells generally liked his kickers and punters to be seen and not heard.
McManus last year boycotted OTAs, and then he showed up for the last sessions to explain why he didn’t show up. The year before, McManus was one of the public voices speaking out against OTAs, at a time when the union tried to get more and more players to withhold services during voluntary drills.
Regardless of the Payton-Parcells angle, the union activity likely didn’t sit well with new ownership, given Wal-Mart’s very strong and successful efforts to avoid unionization. (Google what happened after a small group of meat cutters in Jacksonville, Texas became the first employees in company history to vote to unionize.)
Thus, while McManus still has something to add (as evidenced by Jacksonville’s decision to pounce on him quickly), his release in Denver potentially sends a not-so-subtle message to the locker room. And particularly to the players who can be easily replaced.