Eddy Pineiro became a player to monitor early in the Panthers’ kicker search, having been with the Bears during new Carolina special teams coordinator Chris Tabor‘s tenure. The Panthers are indeed going in this direction.
Pineiro, 26, is signing with Carolina on a one-year deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. He will fill in for the injured Zane Gonzalez. While it was not certain at the time Gonzalez’s groin injury would cost him all of the 2022 season, the Panthers placed the veteran kicker on IR Tuesday. Gonzalez, who kicked for the Panthers for much of last season, is out of the picture for the team until 2023.
The Bears’ ST coordinator throughout Matt Nagy‘s four-year tenure, Tabor landed with the Panthers this offseason. His Pineiro past stems from the young specialist being tabbed as the franchise’s post-“double doink” option at the position — after a much-discussed kicker competition — in 2019. Pineiro kicked in all 16 Bears games that season, though he was not retained for the 2020 slate. Most recently, Pineiro wound up with the Jets, kicking in five games last season.
Greg Zuerlein beat out Pineiro for the Jets’ kicking job in training camp, but Gonzalez worked out for the Panthers — along with fellow ex-Jet Matt Ammendola, former Jaguar Matthew Wright and others — on Monday. During his one full season as an NFL kicker, Pineiro made 23 of 28 field goals — in one of the NFL’s least friendly kicking environments — and was 27-for-29 on extra points. Last season, the ex-Florida Gator was 8-for-8 on field goals and 9-for-10 on PATs.
Gonzalez signed a two-year, $4.5MM deal ($2MM guaranteed) to stay in Carolina this offseason. Although Pineiro will likely be attached to a league-minimum deal, the Panthers will soon be responsible for two kicker salaries. They entered Wednesday with the league’s third-most cap space, at just under $20MM, however.