JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Brandon McManus started planning for the next chapter of his NFL career years ago.
McManus would regularly seek out opposing special teams coaches during pregame warmups and introduce himself. He figured making contact and conversation might come in handy down the road.
It did. His exchange with Jacksonville’s Heath Farwell a few years back in Buffalo and again last year in London made it much easier to cold-call Farwell last week after Denver surprisingly dumped McManus and his $3.75 million salary.
“I started talking to the coordinators a few years back and trying to build relationships with them,” McManus said following his first practice with Jacksonville on Tuesday. “You never know when the time will come."
He definitely didn’t see this change of address coming. McManus was admittedly blindsided when the Broncos told him they were releasing him after nine seasons that included a Super Bowl title.
“I don’t know what changed,” said McManus, who will wear No. 10 with his new team. "I had a great run there. Hopefully I can have an equally great run here. Kickers can play a long time, so I’m excited to be here and in a place that is up and coming."
McManus will return to Denver in a few weeks to “pack up the last nine years of my life” and then return to Jacksonville with his wife and their three preschool-aged sons. Moving full time to the Sunshine State won’t be a complete shock since the family has an offseason home in Lighthouse Point, about 300 miles south near Boca Raton.
The Jaguars signed McManus to a one-year deal worth $2 million, a low-risk move that could pay off huge for a team favored to repeat as AFC South champions.
Jacksonville traded kicker Riley Patterson to Detroit for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2026 to make room for the 31-year-old McManus. Patterson hit 30 of 35 field goals and 36 of 37 extra points with Jacksonville last season. But he attempted just three from beyond 50 yards.
Coach Doug Pederson and general manager Trent Baalke were looking for someone with a little more leg — something that could be the difference in a close game and especially in the playoffs.
“There is a comfort level, obviously, as a decision-maker to put a kicker out there,” Pederson said. “When you look at some of the top kickers around the league, when you cross the 50, the 45, the 40, you’re in the field-goal range, so obviously we’re going to take a look at this spring and training camp and see how that plays out.”
McManus has hit 42 of 74 attempts of 50 yards or longer, including 8 of 13 last season. Although many of those came in Denver’s thin air, he’s been more accurate outside the Mile High City.
That was a strong selling point for the Jaguars, who also liked that McManus wanted to be in Jacksonville. One of McManus’ former special teams coaches in Denver, longtime NFL veteran Joe DeCamillis, still has a home in the area and was quick to suggest the Jaguars might have interest.
So McManus reached out to Farwell, who then relayed the information to Pederson and Baalke. The deal came together quickly from there.
“That gives you the picture of where the culture’s gone, just a testament to what Coach Peterson’s done,” Farwell said. “It’s a guy that wanted to be here and then it was an opportunity to get better as a group. … This is a guy that gives us a lot more flexibility (on kickoffs and longer field goals). Maybe that’s three points that we could take advantage of.”