Panthers depth chart focus: Special teams set to dominate?

(Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports) Chris Tabor
(Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports) Chris Tabor /
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Carolina Panthers
(Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports) Zane Gonzalez /

Zane Gonzalez – Carolina Panthers K

The Carolina Panthers were keen to lock up one of the only positives from the 2021 season and they did so nice and early with Zane Gonzalez signing a two-year, $4.5 million deal that also came with a $1.25 million signing bonus and $2 million guaranteed.

The former Arizona State man is coming off a career year in 2021. After the Panthers tried both Joey Slye and Ryan Santoso at kicker they eventually gave Gonzalez an opportunity and he certainly repaid their faith in him.

He ended the season going an impressive 20-22 on field goals and 22-23 on extra-point attempts. But a deeper dive into the former seventh-round selection’s stats make them even more impressive,

After missing an extra point and field goal in Week 2 and then another in Week 4, Gonzalez went perfect for the rest of the season. He also added a new career-long with a successful 57-yard effort at the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10 as well as picking up two NFC Special Teams Player of the Week awards due to his exceptional consistency.

Gonzalez’s season ended prematurely when he suffered a freak groin injury during warmups ahead of the Week 12 matchup at the Buffalo Bills. This led to the slightly comedic scenes as the Panthers held an impromptu kicking competition with wide receiver Brandon Zylstra winning the job.

Although Gonzalez has struggled at times during his second season with any team, the Panthers will hope he exhibits the high-level play we saw in 2021.