Graham Gano

Panthers Set 53-Man Roster

The Panthers have officially set their 53-man roster, and there are few major surprises on the list. One of the most notable names is running back Cameron Artis-Payne, who spent the past four years in Carolina. The team also moved on from fellow offensive veteran Aldrick Robinson, who finished last season with five touchdown receptions for the Vikings.

Otherwise, the other notable names include recent draft picks, like 2018 seventh-round wideout Terry Godwin and 2017 fifth-round cornerback Corn Elder.

The rest of the Panthers’ roster moves are below:




Placed on IR:

Panthers Place Graham Gano On IR

The Panthers have placed kicker Graham Gano on injured reserve (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of There was some discussion about Gano being carried on IR, but they’ll move on from him instead and turn to Joey Slye.

Gano, a kicker with a solid track record, was not a trade candidate because of his injury and his high cap number (roughly $3.7MM).

Slye, a Virginia Tech product, auditioned for the Bucs last year but ultimately remained unsigned. He’s impressed the Panthers enough to get a crack at the job for 2019, and potentially beyond if he performs well.

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Panthers To Place Graham Gano On IR?

Graham Gano, one of the highest-paid kickers in the league, may be headed to the injured reserve, as David Newton of writes. Gano, who also finished the 2018 season on IR, continues to deal with a sore knee.

The team could carry Gano on its initial 53-man roster and then put him on IR, which would make him eligible for a return later in the season. As Newton observes, Gano is not a trade candidate because of the injury and his high cap number (roughly $3.7MM).

If Gano is not ready for Week 1, the Panthers will likely turn to Joey Slye, unless a more appealing kicker becomes available during final cutdowns. Slye, a Virginia Tech product, auditioned for the Bucs last year but ultimately remained unsigned.

He hooked on with the Giants in May, but Big Blue subsequently waived him. He signed with the Panthers at the beginning of this month and has impressed in the preseason, converting all six of his field goal attempts and both of his extra point chances. He could win the job with a strong showing in Carolina’s preseason finale tonight.

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Panthers Place K Graham Gano On IR

On Wednesday, the Panthers placed kicker Graham Gano on injured reserve. The move means that Gano’s season is over and Chandler Catanzaro will continue as the team’s lead leg

Gano, 31, has been with the Panthers since 2012. The Panthers value him more than your average kicker and even entertained the possibility of using the franchise tag on him in the offseason. Instead of paying him near the top of the market for one year, however, they signed him to a new four-year deal worth $17MM in March.

In 12 games this year, Gano connected on 14 of 16 field goal tries (87.5%) and 30 of 33 extra point attempts (90.9%). It was a good showing, but one that pales in comparison to his 2017 campaign. Last year, he nailed 29 of his 30 field goal tries for a league-leading 96.7% conversion rate with his only miss coming from 50-yard territory.

Gano’s contract suggests that he will return as the Panthers’ kicker in 2019. In the meantime, Catanzaro has two more games to showcase himself. Those contests will come against the Falcons and Saints to round out the year.

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Panthers Re-Sign K Graham Gano

The Panthers won’t be using the franchise tag on Graham Gano. Carolina has locked up the kicker with a four-year deal worth $17MM, according to Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of (on Twitter). The pact includes $9MM guaranteed.

Heading into the offseason, outsiders assumed that the Panthers’ primary franchise tag candidate would be guard Andrew Norwell with an outside possibility that defensive tackle Star Lotulelei could be hit with the one-year placeholder. Instead, Gano was reportedly the only player in the mix for the tag. This year, the NFL set the tag for kickers at $4.939MM. That’s significantly cheaper than the offensive line tag ($14.077MM) and the defensive tackle tag ($13.939MM).

In theory, the Panthers can now use their franchise tag on another player now that Gano has been re-signed. However, everything we’ve heard up until this point indicates that the Panthers will allow both Norwell and Lotulelei to explore the open market.

Last year, Gano led the league in field goal percentage as he nailed 96.7% of his attempts en route to his first Pro Bowl appearance. He also led the league in touchbacks with 84.8% of his kickoffs resulting in the opposing team starting from the 20-yard line.

In terms of total value, Gano’s deal ranks fourth behind Dan Bailey, Ryan Succop, and Stephen Gostkowski amongst kickers. However, his average annual value of $4.25MM makes him the second-highest paid kicker in the NFL, trailing only Gostkowski. His total guarantee of $9MM puts him third in that category behind Justin Tucker and Gostkowski and just ahead of Succop.

After a shaky 2016, a lucrative long-term deal did not seem possible for Gano. Two seasons ago, Gano made just 30 of 38 field goal attempts and used a draft pick on Harrison Butker to open up a kicking competition. Today, Gano stands as one of the highest-paid players at his position.

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Panthers, Gano Discussing Extension

The Panthers are working on a long-term deal with Pro Bowl kicker Graham Gano, sources tell Ian Rapoport of (on Twitter). If a deal does not get done by Tuesday at 4pm ET/3pm CT, they’ll likely use the franchise tag on him. 

Early on in the offseason, it seemed likely that guard Andrew Norwell would be the most likely of any Panthers player to receive the franchise tag, a designation that can only be used on one player per team. However, the Panthers do not see room in the budget for a one-year, $14.5MM placeholder on Norwell given that they have already given a lucrative long-term extension to right guard Trai Turner. From the outside, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei also seemed to be a candidate for the tag, but that has also been ruled out by Carolina brass.

It’s not typical for a kicker to receive the franchise tag, but the tag price for kickers – estimated to fall between $4.8MM and $5MM – is more palatable than the cost for offensive linemen or interior defensive linemen.

Gano’s representatives are likely to use Ryan Succop‘s recent accord with the Titans as a framework for his deal. Succop’s extension is worth $20MM over five years with $7.25MM guaranteed at signing and a healthy cash flow of $8.25MM over the first two years. In terms of yearly average amongst kickers, Succop’s $4MM year falls behind only Stephen Gostkowski (Patriots, $4.3MM/year), Justin Tucker (Ravens, $4.2MM/year), and Mason Crosby (Packers, $4.025MM/year).

Gano’s 96.7% field goal percentage led the NFL in 2017 and former Panthers GM Dave Gettleman is reportedly hoping to bring him to the Giants. If the Panthers get an extension done with Gano, or if they use the tag on him, Gettleman’s reunion plans will be scuttled.

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Giants Expected To Target Graham Gano

The Giants are expected to pursue free agent kicker Graham Gano, according to Dan Duggan of Gano (Vertical)

Gano, of course, would need to actually reach the free agent market before New York can go after him. The Panthers, who have employed the 30-year-old Gano for the past six seasons, are reportedly considering using the franchise tag on their veteran kicker. The franchise tender for placekickers is expected to be worth $4.604MM, a steep raise over Gano’s current $3.1MM annual salary.

Gano led the NFL in field goal conversion rate with a 96.7% success mark in 2017, and that performance earned him his first career Pro Bowl nod. In terms of advanced metrics, Gano was worth 6.3 points through his field goal and extra point work, good for eighth in the league, per Football Outsiders.

The Giants are seemingly aiming to replace Aldrick Rosas, who converted only 72% of his field goal attempts in what was his rookie campaign. New York general manager Dave Gettleman previously served in the same role for the Panthers, so he’s clearly familiar with Gano’s ability.

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Panthers May Franchise Tag K Graham Gano

The Panthers are leaning toward placing their franchise tag on kicker Graham Gano rather than guard Andrew Norwell, according to Ian Rapoport of (Twitter link). This is a shift from a report on Monday from Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer that said the team was unlikely to use its franchise tag. Graham Gano (Vertical)

The franchise tag for kickers and punters is expected to be in the $5MM range. Gano, 30, was selected to his first Pro Bowl last season, connecting on 29 of 30 field goals. There is a precedent for placing the franchise tag on a kicker, as the Ravens and Justin Tucker, as well as Stephen Gostkowski and the Patriots, have done so in recent years. Gano has a career 81.8% success rate through 257 field goal attempts.

Norwell was selected as an All-Pro for the first time last season and the offensive lineman franchise tag is expected to be $14.3MM. Rapoport went on to note (Twitter link) that Norwell is set to be one of the top free agents, regardless of position, but the Panthers are in a tough spot because the offensive lineman franchise tag is meant to apply to tackles. The Patriots were the last team to place a franchise tag on a guard, using it on Logan Mankins in 2011. Norwell has started all 16 games the last two seasons at left guard for the Panthers, who signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2014.

Also serving as a potential franchise tag candidate for the Panthers is defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, though Person noted in his story that the team may elect to give more playing time to 2016 first-round pick Vernon Butler at defensive tackle.

The window for teams to use their franchise tags began Tuesday and ends on March 6, a week before free agency opens.

Panthers Not Expected To Use Franchise Tag

In 2016, the Panthers placed the franchise tag on cornerback Josh Norman before rescinding it, allowing him to sign with the Redskins. The following year, they placed the tag on Kawann Short and signed him to a long-term deal the following month. "<strong

They are not expected to use it this year, however, writes Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer.

The most obvious candidate on the roster to receive the tag was Andrew Norwell, the undrafted free agent in 2014 who earned All-Pro honors in 2017. With the team signing Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner to a four-year extension in the 2017 offseason, it is not likely to invest the $14.3 MM tag on another guard. Person also notes guards are typically not franchise tag candidates, with Logan Mankins in 2011 with the Patriots being the last guard to receive the distinction.

Other candidates included defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and kicker Graham Gano. After signing Short to a long-term deal in the previous offseason, the Panthers can let Lotulelei head to free agency and give more playing time to 2016 first-round pick Vernon Butler, Person writes.

Teams can officially put the franchise tag on players beginning on February 20. They have until March 6, about a week before the start of free agency, to decide to use the tag.

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Panthers Working Out K Andrew Franks

The Panthers are working out a group of kickers that includes free agent Andrew Franks on Tuesday, according to Ian Rapoport of (Twitter link).Andrew Franks (Vertical)

While incumbent kicker Graham Gano has not been ruled out for next week’s game against the Buccaneers, he is dealing with a knee injury. Gano appeared on Carolina’s injury report late last week, and subsequently had ice on his knee following the Panthers’ 17-3 loss to the Bears on Sunday, tweets Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. Gano converted his lone field goal attempt yesterday, a 36-yarder that represented Carolina’s only points on the day.

The Panthers began the season with rookie kicker Harrison Butker on their practice squad, but he’s since been snatched up the Chiefs (and performed rather well). Franks, meanwhile, was the Dolphins’ kicker for each of the past two seasons, but he converted just 78.4% of his field goal attempts during that time. He’s auditioned for the Redskins, Buccaneers, and Jaguars since being released by Miami, but has yet to land a contract.

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