ALLEN PARK — Matt Prater has proven his worth since he joined the Lions early in the 2014 season. The kicker been rewarded with a three-year contract extension worth $11.4 million.
“It kind of happened quick, management came up, wanted to get a deal done and I was excited — I’m all about staying in Detroit and hopefully retiring here at the end of the day,’’ Prater said on Wednesday.
He said when he first signed the one-year deal he was thinking maybe he could stick around, but it was tough to tell.
Turns out he loves it in Detroit.
“Just everything from top to bottom, from ownership, the Ford Family, Bob Quinn upstairs, Matt Harriss, coach (Jim) Caldwell, the team, fans, everything,’’ Prater said. “There’s no place I’d rather be than in Detroit.”
(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)
Obviously, Quinn values special teams players. Punter Sam Martin signed a four-year extension 13 months ago worth $13.6 million. Martin is the holder for Prater’s field goal attempts.
“We have good chemistry together and work well together,’’ Prater said. “I’m excited to be with him for another three years.’’
Martin has been out injured since the start of training camp but is back in the fold this week.
“He’s great I don’t think we’ll miss a beat,’’ Prater said. “He’s working hard and doing really well.’’
Prater, 33, accounts for 45 of the Lions’ 161 points scored through the first six games this season. He’s a perfect 15 of 15 on extra points and 10-of -12 on field goals.
What makes him better than most of the rest is his distance and consistency.
His teammates love what he brings to the team.
“It’s awesome. Every time we touch the ball we want to score a touchdown, but we know we got a pretty good option if we don’t,’’ quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “He’s shown the ability to make all sorts of kicks, in all sorts of environments in all sorts of climates. So, he’s made some big time clutch kicks for us, I think he relishes that moment, which is pretty fun to see. Some kickers maybe don’t, and he’s a gamer and does a great job for us.”
In his 11-year NFL career Prater has made 40 of 51 field goals from 50 yards or longer (78.4 percent) which ranks as the highest in NFL history. His 40 50-yard or more field goals are tied for fourth all-time in NFL history.
In fact, Prater made a dozen straight 50-yard or longer field goals from Jan. 3, 2016, through Sept. 24, 2017. He averaged 54.7 yards per field goal during that stretch.
When he kicked a pair of 55-yard plus field goals in the loss to Atlanta on Sept. 24, he became the second kicker in NFL history to kick 10 field goals of 55 yards or more.
He is first in the NFL to kick four 55-yard plus field goals in a single season. This occurred during the first three games this season. Chances are he could add to that in the next 10 games.
Prater was named the NFC special teams player of the week after the first week of the season.
When punter Kasey Redfern injured his knee early in the win over the Cardinals, Prater then became the punter too which was a first in his career. He had four punts averaging 34.8 yards.
He kicked a 58-yard field goal — his only attempt of the day. It was the longest field goal in team history at home and tied for the second longest ever.
Prater was signed as a free agent on Oct. 7, 2014, after the Lions struggled in the kicking game with Nate Freese and Alex Henery. He had been suspended for four games by the NFL and when he returned the Denver Broncos cut him, opening the door for Detroit.
Oddly enough, Prater was originally signed by the Lions in 2006 as the backup during training camp to Jason Hanson. He was cut before the season started.