Finding a kicker to replace John Kasay has been no easy task for the Panthers, but Graham Gano shows promise. Gano had a tremendous first season for the Panthers, hitting 24 of his 27 field goal attempts and all of his attempts over 50 yards. An often overlooked stat is touchback percentage. Gano led the league in touchback percentage with 77.8. Following a Panthers score, opponents would almost always have to start the ball on offense at the 20. Gano eliminated return threats and forced the opposing offense to take over with a long field.
Gano’s contract is reportedly a four-year deal worth 12.4 million dollars. It seems a hefty price, but Gano was one of the Panthers most important free agents this offseason. Plus with the higher salary cap for 2014 and some contract restructures, the Panthers have a little more wiggle room in the budget. Rumors are spreading that the Panthers have opted to use the franchise tag on DE Greg “Kraken” Hardy. This is good news for Panther Nation, as the Panthers were able to resign two top free agents. It would be nice to see Gettleman offer contracts to Mike Mitchell and Ted Ginn as well. For now the Panthers are off to a great start keeping their core together and building for future success. Gettleman has faith Gano can remain a consistent kicking threat over the next four seasons and help keep a special teams unit special.