In the wake of Olindo Mare’s recent struggles, the Panthers decided to bring in a another kicker to try to add a sense of competition to the position. Adi Kunalic, who attended training camp with the Panthers and is an undrafted rookie free agent, was signed yesterday for the remainder of the season.
Kunalic played his college career at Nebraska, where he spent most of his time serving as the backup to Alex Henery, who was selected in the 4th round of this year’s NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. Kunalic attempted one field goal at Nebraska, a 46 yard attempt, which he made. He was used mainly as a kickoff specialist. In the preseason this year he attempted two field goals, and three extra points, converting on all five attempts. He also kicked off six times, reaching the endzone on all six attempts, and one of them being downed for a touchback.
Panthers management seemed to take a liking to him over the preseason, thus the reason for the signing yesterday. “We had Adi in training camp, and we thought he had a lot of potential,” Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. “We just think it’s a good time to bring him in and let him compete.” However, there has been no indication from Ron Rivera that Kunalic will be the starting kicker when the Panthers travel to Houston to play the Texans. I would imagine that since the Panthers are paying Mare $3 million a year, and a total of $12 million over the next four years, that they might want to see if he can correct his recent struggles and get back on track. But Ron Rivera is not John Fox, and has shown the willingness to take a couple chances. So if Kunalic has a great week of practice or Mare misses an early field goal against the Texans, don’t be surprised if you see Kunalic on the field at some point.