Harrison Butker

Chiefs Place K Cairo Santos On IR

The Chiefs announced that they have placed kicker Cairo Santos on IR. To take his place, the team has signed kicker Harrison Butker off of the Panthers’ practice squad. Cairo Santos (vertical)

The reason for Santos’ placement on IR is not immediately clear. He struggled with a groin pull in the summer, so it’s possible that he reaggravated that injury.

The ball gets heavier (when it rains) and I just felt sore,” Santos said in early September (via Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star). “The next time I kicked, it just got worse and worse until I felt a pop on one of practice kicks. That’s when I knew something was wrong with it.”

Santos, 26 in November, was perfect through three games. He nailed all three of his field goal tries and made 100% of his extra point attempts.

Earlier this year, the Panthers were receiving calls of trade interest in kicker Graham Gano, leading to speculation that they could move him for a draft pick and stick with Butker. That wasn’t the case as the Panthers cut Butker on Sept. 13, though they did re-sign him to the taxi squad. He’ll now get his opportunity to shine in KC.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Practice Squad Updates: 9/14/17

Today’s practice squad moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

  • Signed: K Harrison Butker
  • Cut: DT Eric Crume

Detroit Lions

Los Angeles Rams

New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Panthers Claim CB Ladarius Gunter

Former Packers cornerback Ladarius Gunter was claimed off waivers by the Panthers, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. In a corresponding move, the Panthers are releasing kicker Harrison ButkerLadarius Gunter (vertical)

Gunter had the most defensive snaps of any Packers cornerback in 2016. He was productive early on, but he slowed down towards the end of the season and slipped down the depth chart over the summer. He was on the field for only two snaps in Green Bay’s season opener.

The release of Butker means that Graham Gano will be sticking with the team. Earlier this month, the Panthers were receiving calls of trade interest in Gano, leading to speculation that they could move him for a draft pick and stick with Butker. That won’t be the case as the Georgia Tech product is now subject to waivers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Teams Inquiring On Kicker Graham Gano

With the Panthers currently rostering a pair of kickers, it sounds like the organization is considering trading some of their depth. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that teams have called the Panthers to inquire on veteran kicker Graham Gano. We learned earlier this week that the organization was shopping rookie kicker Harrison Butker and veteran punter Andy Lee.

Graham Gano (Vertical)The 30-year-old Gano has found a home in Carolina, where he’s spent the past five seasons. The former undrafted free agent out of Florida State isn’t necessarily known for his consistency, as he’s only connected 79.7-percent of his field goals during his career. However, he has made 96.4-percent of his extra point attempts, and he’s also competent at kickoffs. Last season, Gano connected on only 78.9-percent of his field goals, his lowest percentage since 2011.

Meanwhile, the team used a seventh-round pick on Butker, who has connected on a lone 51-yard field goal this preseason. The Georgia Tech product only connected on 71.7-percent of his field goals while in college, but he did convert 99-percent of his extra point attempts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Shopping Punter Andy Lee

The Panthers are gauging trade interest in a pair of specialists, punter Andy Lee and kicker Harrison Butker, sources tell Jourdan Rodrigue and Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer.Andy Lee

Carolina acquired Lee and a seventh-round pick from the Browns prior to last season in exchange for a fourth-rounder and fellow punter Kasey Redfern. Lee, 35, appeared in nine games for the Panthers before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury. That health issue allowed Michael Palardy — now Lee’s primary competition — to punt for Carolina over the season’s final seven contests. Prior to going down, Lee averaged 49.1 yards per punt on 39 attempts.

Lee agreed to a pay reduction earlier this year, per the Observer scribes. Originally scheduled to earn $3.43MM and $4.13MM over the next two seasons, Lee will now bring in just $1MM in 2017 and $1.1MM in 2018. That could make Lee relatively attractive on the trade market, especially for clubs in need of specialist but are strapped for cap space.

Butker, meanwhile, is also part of an open competition, as he’s vying to become the Panthers’ placekicker alongside veteran Graham Gano. A seventh-round pick this spring, Butker has only attempted one field goal this preseason, a 51-yarder that he converted successfully. He’s also made both of his extra point tries. For his part, Gano is three-for-four on preseason field goals, and made only 78.9% of his attempts during the 2017 campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Cards, Falcons, Panthers, Hawks

If Carson Palmer retires after the 2017 season, Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic (on Twitter) could see a scenario in which the Cardinals make a run at Kirk Cousins or perhaps Sam Bradford. Both players would be a schematic fit for the Cardinals and there won’t be a ton of other established quarterbacks available. If Cousins is an unrestricted free agent, the Cardinals could have a hard time bidding against the rival 49ers as they will be loaded with cap space.

A few more items from the NFC:

  • The popular belief for the past several months is that Falcons running back Devonta Freeman will sign a contract extension prior to the season, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk isn’t so sure anymore. Evidenced by the fact that Freeman still isn’t under contract past 2017, Florio observes that it hasn’t been an easy negotiation between the two sides, and he wonders if the 25-year-old will roll the dice and go without a new deal this season in hopes of upping his stock even more. As such, the Falcons might have to decide next offseason whether to place the franchise tag on Freeman for $12.1MM – a marked increase over his $1.8MM salary for this year – or let him hit the open market.
  • Panthers kicker Graham Gano is on the bubble thanks to the addition of seventh-round pick Harrison Butker, David Newton of ESPN.com writes. The selection of the Georgia Tech product was the first time the Panthers have ever drafted a place kicker and it’s a sign that they could be moving on from the veteran. Gano missed several big kicks last season and converted on just 78.9% of his attempts.
  • Seahawks quarterback Trevone Boykin still has to appear in front of a judge in August for his March arrest, but he has some good news on another front. Boykin has skirted jail time for a separate potential parole violation, as Gregg Bell of The News Tribune writes. Boykin was facing up to a year in jail for that charge, but he’ll pay a small fine instead. The Seahawks reportedly are not expecting Boykin to be disciplined by the league for his actions, so his off-the-field missteps shouldn’t impact his job security as Russell Wilson‘s backup.
  • It was a busy afternoon in Carolina, which signed guard Trai Turner to a big-money extension and said goodbye to offensive tackle Michael Oher.

Connor Byrne contributed to this post.