Gano expected to draw interest from Giants
Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano is expected to draw some interest in free agency, especially from the New York Giants…
Graham Gano rebounded from a poor 2016 season with a stellar performance last season but another playoff miss left a bad taste in the mouth of many Carolina Panthers supporters. After only missing one field goal attempt all season, Gano pushed a 25-yard attempt wide right which would have given Carolina an early 3-0 lead against the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs.
Two plays later Ted Ginn hauled in an 80-yard pass from quarterback Drew Brees putting New Orleans on top for a lead they would never relinquish. The Panthers eventually lost 31-26 but the momentum swing and difference any single play can make in a game is undeniable. A make quite possibly could have led to a different outcome.
After drafting a kicker for the first time in franchise history last season, Harrison Butker was eventually placed on the Panthers practice squad and picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs early in the year. Despite getting to play in just 13 games, Butker set an NFL record for field goals made by a rookie.
If Carolina was going to part ways with Gano, they appear to have missed a prime opportunity.
For this reason, general manager Marty Hurney has made it evident the team plans to keep their current kicker in place. According to the official team website, Hurney offered the following comments on Gano and his future in Carolina.
"“I mean, Graham missed one kick for us last year. He had a phenomenal year. He’s definitely a guy that we want to get re-signed and is a priority, but as I said, this time of year it’s hard to predict anything. It’s just a fluid process day-to-day.”"
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If they do keep Gano, it likely won’t be without a significant pay increase given that he is expected to draw interest from other teams around the league, particularly the New York Giants. Former general manager Dave Gettleman is at the helm in New York and special teams coach Thomas McGaughey is also now on staff.
The NJ Advance Media is reporting that the Giants are expected to make a serious run at signing Gano when the free agent period begins on March 12. His departure would lead to the Panthers needing to find an immediate replacement who could contribute on opening day.
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This scenario is just the latest in a long line of questions for Hurney to answer over the next few months as the 2018 NFL season approaches.