Projecting who will win the Carolina Panthers kicking battle
By Noah Bryce
Will the Carolina Panthers finally solve their kicking woes this offseason following what is expected to be strong competition at camp?
The Carolina Panthers had a steady hand, or foot, at the kicker position for the better part of a decade in the always reliable Graham Gano. That is until a fractured femur derailed the veteran’s 2019 season, in which he never attempted a kick.
After a 2016 campaign in which the kicker made only 78.9 percent of their attempts, the Panthers sensed some complacency and brought in current Kansas City Chiefs stud Harrison Butker.
Gano’s best season with Carolina came after this push in 2017, posting a truly ridiculous 96.7 percent kick accuracy. A stat line good enough for first place on the accuracy charts and his first Pro Bowl appearance.
The player’s accuracy dipped slightly in 2018 to 87.5 percent. But that was still good enough for 14th in the NFL that year and higher than the sharpshooting Gano’s average campaign during his time with the Panthers.
But then came 2019 and Gano’s surprising release in the following year. The NFL is very much a “what have you done for me lately” league and all that the kicker had done lately was miss an entire season.
What Gano has done lately for the New York Giants on the other hand is put a significant amount of egg on the face of his former team by making 96.9 percent of their field goals last season.
The Panthers are looking up at the reliable boot of Gano and the rising stardom of Butker and are once again bringing in competition at the position this offseason. But how will that competition end up?
Let’s take a look at both options and make a prediction on which way the team will lean.