Okwuegbunam is coming off a monster exhibition finale in which he caught seven passes for 109 yards and a touchdown against the Rams, after which his teammates serenaded him with chants of “Albert O! Albert O!”
“I've always been capable of doing this,” he said afterward. “Tonight, I just got the opportunities to show it.”
In 26 games over his first three NFL seasons, Okwuegbunam had 54 catches for 546 yards and four touchdowns.
The Lutz deal means New Orleans will go with undrafted rookie Blake Grupe from Notre Dame. He was 5-for-6 in the preseason with his only miss from 60 yards.
The Broncos released veteran Brandon McManus in the spring and brought in veterans Elliott Fry and Brett Maher for a camp competition. Fry was waived with an injury designation after the preseason opener where he missed a field goal.
Maher, who was jettisoned by the Dallas Cowboys in the offseason following his extra point meltdown in the playoffs, missed two field goals in that first preseason game before bouncing back to make all four of his attempts and all seven extra points in the last two exhibitions.
“Brett Maher did an outstanding job,” Broncos general manager George Paton said. “I feel he should be kicking in this league.”
Payton had made it clear that Maher hadn't won the job when Fry was released two weeks ago and was actually competing with kickers across the league.
That included Lutz, 29, who signed with New Orleans after the Baltimore Ravens cut him in 2016.
Lutz has made 84.6% of his field goal attempts in his seven-year NFL career. He made 74.2% of his tries last year after missing 2021 with a core muscle injury.
He was perfect in the preseason, nailing all four of his kicks, and Payton said he believes Lutz is back to his pre-injury self.
“He was a target for us. We knew they had two players,” Payton said. ”... He had a really good training camp for them. We’ve seen all of his kicks and we got pretty good information on how his practices went. And look, this is a place kickers want to be with the altitude and the conditions."
Lutz will see plenty of familiar faces in Denver besides Payton's.
The Broncos stocked their roster with several former Saints who played for Payton in New Orleans, including tight end Adam Trautman, fullback Michael Burton and wide receivers Marquez Callaway and Lil'Jordan Humphrey.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl
Arnie Stapleton, The Associated Press