Graham Gano

Panthers Misdiagnosed K Gano In 2018

Graham Gano has been one of the more reliable kickers in the NFL over the course of his twelve-year career, a career that could’ve been cut short due to a misdiagnosed injury by Panthers’ team doctors in 2018, Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News reported in October.

Gano spent eight years in Carolina with his final year being spent on injured reserve. In seven seasons of play, Gano converted 165 of 193 attempted field goals (85.5%) en route to becoming second on the list of the franchise’s all-time leading scorers with 742 points. The former-Panther’s last active season with the team was cut short when team doctors diagnosed him with a left leg injury. According to Gano, the medical staffers misdiagnosed the injury as tendinitis and a bone bruise when he had actually sustained a fractured left femur. Gano’s second opinion from New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery led to a 2019 knee surgery that sidelined him for the entire 2019 season, but potentially prevented a more dangerous injury from ending his career had he returned without fixing the actual damage to his leg.

Upon returning to health in the 2020 offseason, Gano was cut by the new staff led by current Panthers’ head coach Matt Rhule before he even got a chance to kick for them. Carolina’s loss was New York’s gain, as the Giants quickly picked up the veteran kicker and have seen him return to form converting 91.8% of his attempted field goals. Gano’s success in New York quickly earned him a new contract that extended him through 2023 with the second highest average salary in the league for kickers.

Dr. Pat Connor and trainer Ryan Vermillion, the head team physician and head athletic trainer respectively for Carolina in that 2018 NFL season, are no longer with the organization. Vermillion ended up in Washington, following head coach Ron Rivera from Carolina, where he is now under investigation for alleged distribution of prescription drugs by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Contract Details: Beckham, Bitonio, Gano

Rounding up a few contract details from this past week:

  • Odell Beckham, WR (Rams): One year, $1.25MM, with up to $3MM in team-based incentives. Incentive package is as follows: $500K if Rams get wildcard win or first-round bye; $750K for divisional round win; $750K for NFC Championship Game win; $500K for Super Bowl appearance, or $1MM for Super Bowl win. OBJ would have to play at least one snap of those postseason contests to earn the incentive (Twitter links via Albert Breer of SI.com). None of the $4.25MM paid by Browns is offset, so Beckham earns that full amount in addition to his Rams payouts.
  • Joel Bitonio, G (Browns): Three years, originally reported as $48MM. Per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the total value actually checks in at over $49MM, as Cleveland agreed to pay Bitonio 17th-game checks on his 2020 and 2021 salaries. So Bitonio’s AAV is $16.37MM, which narrowly tops Joe Thuney‘s $16MM pact with the Chiefs and makes him the highest-paid guard on a multi-year contract.
  • Graham Gano, K (Giants): Agreed to convert ~$514K of base salary into signing bonus, thereby creating ~343K of 2021 cap space (Twitter link via ESPN’s Field Yates).

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/28/20

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

  • Promoted: QB Reid Sinnett

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Placed on IR: G Sua Opeta

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Giants, Washington Have COVID-19 Positives

We continue to see a steady uptick in COVID-19 cases around the league, although fortunately they have been mostly isolated incidents with no full-blown outbreaks. Tuesday morning we got word of two more teams with players testing positive, both in the NFC East. The Giants and the Washington Football Team are the latest to be hit with the virus.

The Giants’ player is kicker Graham Gano, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post tweets. Thankfully New York is on bye this week, so Gano should be able to kick by the next time the Giants play a game in Week 12 against Cincinnati assuming there are no complications, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network tweets. The Giants are finally starting to pick up a little steam, so hopefully this remains an isolated incident that has minimal implications because of the bye.

Washington also had a player test positive, and also thankfully it sounds like somewhat of a best-case scenario. The unidentified player hasn’t been in the facility in the past few days and didn’t travel with the team for their game in Detroit last week, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets. That’s because the player is currently on injured reserve, Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post tweets.

Washington is going into the intensive protocol, but since he didn’t play in the game the Lions won’t have to and hopefully no other Washington players caught it. Interestingly, as Pelissero noted in a follow-up tweet, Washington was one of only three teams who hadn’t placed a player on the reserve/COVID-19 list during the regular season before now. The only two remaining are the Rams and Seahawks.

Giants Extend Graham Gano

On the heels of David Bakhtiari‘s extension, we’ve got another one to pass along. Although it’s not nearly as large, kicker Graham Gano is getting an extension that runs through the 2023 season from the Giants, the team announced Sunday.

Gano signed a one-year, $2.5MM deal with the Giants back in August that was set to expire at the end of the season. He’ll now get three additional years tacked on. Those three years will come with $14MM in new money, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Of that, $9MM is guaranteed, so the Giants are tied to Gano for a whlie. He’s been on fire recently, and has an active streak of 20 consecutive field goals going.

An UDFA in 2009, Gano spent his first couple of seasons as Washington’s kicker before signing with Carolina in 2012. He held down the Panthers’ job for the next seven seasons, making the Pro Bowl in 2017. He missed all of last season with a knee injury, and the Panthers cut him back in July.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Rumors: Rivera, Sanders, Cowboys

Ron Rivera announced last week he is battling lymph node cancer. The new Washington HC will attempt to coach the team through his treatment process, though Jack Del Rio is in place as the emergency fill-in. Rivera will undergo a mixture of chemotherapy and proton therapy, and John Keim of ESPN.com notes the veteran coach’s treatment schedule will feature five per week over a seven-week period. Upon hiring Del Rio, Rivera prioritized having someone with head coaching experience on his staff — which he did not have in Carolina. Del Rio served as an acting head coach for part of the 2013 season, leading the Broncos while John Fox recovered from heart surgery.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Gerald McCoy‘s Cowboys tenure may not be over. Despite the organization taking advantage of the injury protection it included in the Pro Bowl defensive tackle’s contract, and releasing him months after he signed the three-year deal, McCoy would like to play for the Cowboys in 2021, Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News tweets. The 10-year veteran indicated he will help the younger defensive linemen still on this year’s Cowboys roster, Ed Werder of ESPN.com adds (via Twitter). McCoy underwent successful quadriceps surgery last week, per Watkins.
  • A key component in the fantasy drafts taking place worldwide this week, Miles Sanders is currently not practicing with the Eagles. And the team has been vague as to why. Philadelphia’s starting running back is dealing with a “lower-body injury,” according to the team. However, the second-year back is expected to be ready to play by Week 1, Tim McManus of ESPN.com notes. Having lost Jordan Howard in free agency and seeing the Seahawks sign one of their UFA targets, Carlos Hyde, the Eagles are set to rely on Sanders more than they did last season. The Eagles were also interested in Devonta Freeman, and while the ex-Falcons Pro Bowler remains available, the team is going with Boston Scott and Corey Clement as its backup backs at this point.
  • Graham Gano‘s Giants deal is worth up to $2.5MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Giants guaranteed their new kicker $1MM. This is more money than the team gave Chandler Catanzaro, whose Giants stay lasted barely three weeks. Gano has 10 years’ experience, though he missed all of last season with a knee injury.

Giants Cut Chandler Catanzaro

The Giants have released kicker Chandler Catanzaro, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). That job now belongs to former Panthers kicker Graham Gano, who spent years playing under GM Dave Gettleman. 

[RELATED: Giants Sign K Graham Gano]

Catanzaro, 29, hooked on with the Jets last year. After a rocky training camp and equally rough start to the preseason, he announced his retirement. He returned to the game last month with New Jersey’s other team, but his stay was short-lived.

Catanzaro nailed 87.9% of his kicks as a Cardinals rookie in 2014 and 90.3% of his tries in 2015. His success rate dipped to 75% in 2016, but bounced back a bit with the Jets in 2017, making 83.3% of his kicks and all of his PATs. Then, he dipped once again. His three-year deal with the Bucs was torn up pretty quickly after he missed two field goals in a loss to the Redskins, ending his Tampa Bay tenure with a weak 73.3% success rate. His last live action came with the Panthers towards the end of the 2018 campaign.

Gano, meanwhile, has been out of football since he fractured his femur towards the end of the 2018 season. Before that, he was tremendous in 2017, his last full season. Gano nailed 29 of his 30 field goal tries for a league-leading 96.7% conversion rate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Plan To Sign K Graham Gano

Lawrence Tynes was the Giants’ placekicker from 2007-12, though an injury limited him to two games in 2008. Now, he’s breaking news for Big Blue.

Tynes reports that the Giants are bringing in kicker Graham Gano for a visit (Twitter link). Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says the team is planning to sign the 33-year-old specialist, who was released by the Panthers last month (Twitter link).

New York, of course, has experienced some turmoil at the kicker position this year. Aldrick Rosas, the team’s kicker over the past three seasons — including a Pro Bowl campaign in 2018 — was cut by the Giants following a hit-and-run incident earlier this summer.

To replace Rosas, the Giants brought in Chandler Catanzaro, who appeared to be primed to claim New York’s kicking job. But assuming Gano is signed, there will be a legitimate competition between the two vets.

Gano was tremendous in his last full season in 2017, sinking 29 of his 30 field goal tries for a league-leading 96.7% conversion rate. That performance earned him the first Pro Bowl bid of his career, and it also helped him secure a four-year, $17MM deal. Unfortunately, a fractured femur suffered towards the end of the 2018 season laned Gano on IR, and he was unable to get back on the field in 2019. Before his release, though, his recovery was said to be progressing well.

Catanzaro, meanwhile, was a productive full-time kicker as recently as 2017 and does have several very productive seasons under his belt, but after a difficult preseason with the Jets last year, he announced his retirement. He came out of retirement to hook on with New Jersey’s other club, but he may be hard-pressed to beat out a healthy Gano.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Release K Graham Gano

The Panthers have released Graham Gano, according to a social media post from his wife (Twitter link via Joe Person of The Athletic). The veteran kicker was slated to make $3MM this year.

Joey Slye, meanwhile, is under contract for just $675K. It’s a cost-cutting maneuver for Carolina, though the team will be left with even more dead money on the books. The Panthers have saved $2.8MM while taking on a leftover $1.5MM charge, to be dispersed over the next two years. All in all, the Panthers overhaul has saddled them with nearly $43MM in dead money in 2020.

Gano was tremendous in his last full season in 2017, sinking 29 of his 30 field goal tries for a league-leading 96.7% conversion rate. That performance earned him the first Pro Bowl bid of his career, and it also helped him secure a four-year, $17MM deal. Before his release, Gano had the fifth-highest AAV ($4.25MM) of any kicker in the NFL.

Now, the job belongs to Slye. Known for his strong leg, Slye nailed 78.1% of his kicks in 2019, with an 8-of-11 success rate from 50+ yards. He also missed four extra point tries, but the Panthers seem to think that he’ll tamp that number down moving forward.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Graham Gano’s Recovery Progressing Well

Panthers kicker Graham Gano is progressing well in his recovery from knee surgery, special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn tells Alaina Getzenberg of the Charlotte Observer. Gano was placed on IR towards the end of the 2018 season with a fractured femur, and though he was on the field during the early stages of training camp in 2019, he was unable to shake the injury and ultimately went under the knife.

Joey Slye took over kicking duties in Gano’s absence last year, hitting 78.1% of his field goal attempts, not a particularly strong mark. He also missed four PATs.

Gano, meanwhile, was tremendous in his last full season in 2017, sinking 29 of his 30 field goal tries for a league-leading 96.7% conversion rate (with his only miss coming from 50-yard territory). That performance earned him the first Pro Bowl bid of his career, and it also helped him secure a four-year, $17MM contract from Carolina the following offseason. His AAV of $4.25MM positions him as the fifth-highest-paid kicker in the game.

Because injured players have been allowed to be in team facilities even during the pandemic, Gano has been able to do some kicking work in familiar surroundings. Head athletic trainer Kevin King reported that Gano looks good, and it sounds as if he and Slye will be battling it out this summer.

“The (kicking) battle as far as that’s concerned, I mean, in reality, we’re in a very, very blessed situation, because we got two very capable kickers with really talented legs,” Blackburn said. “There’s plenty of teams around the NFL right now that would be very excited to have the competition that we have going. But at the biggest part right now, I haven’t seen (Gano) kick or anything, we’re just working on this offseason program and we’re just trying to finish this strong.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.