Zane Gonzalez

Panthers Trim Roster To 53 Players

The Panthers trimmed their roster to 53 players today, meaning a long list of players earned their walking papers:

Released:

Waived:

Waived/injured:

Placed on IR:

The most notable move was kicker Zane Gonzalez landing on injured reserve, making him ineligible to return for the 2022 campaign. Gonzalez injury himself on Friday night while warming up on the sideline. It was later revealed that he suffered a significant groin injury, and that injury ended up being season-ending. The Panthers worked out five potential replacements yesterday.

Juston Burris started 20 of his 23 games for the Panthers over the past two seasons. After collecting a career-high 53 tackles in 2020, the safety finished with only 23 tackles this past year, with Pro Football Focus ranking him 77th among 92 qualifying safeties. He was on the roster bubble following the offseason pickup of Xavier Woods. Brandon Zylstra has seen time in 37 games for the Panthers over the past three years, hauling in 29 receptions for 391 yards and one touchdown. Yesterday’s trade for Laviska Shenault Jr. only pushed him further down the depth chart, leading to his release.

Panthers Work Out Five Kickers

Zane Gonzalez was injured on the sideline during Friday’s preseason contest, and the Panthers are now eyeing some reinforcement at kicker. According to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter), the Panthers worked out kickers Taylor Bertolet, Brian Johnson, Chase McLaughlin, Eddy Pineiro, and Matthew Wright.

After seeing time in 15 games across two seasons with five different teams, McLaughlin got a chance to be the Browns’ full-time kicker in 2021. He converted 15 of his 21 field goal attempts and 36 of his 37 extra point attempts. With Cleveland selecting Cade York in the fourth round of the draft, McLaughlin was ultimately cut back in May.

Wright got into 14 games for the Jaguars last year, connecting on 21 of his 24 field goal attempts and 13 of his 15 XP tries. After converting 82.1 percent of his FG attempts in 16 games with the Bears in 2021, Pineiro saw time in five games with the Jets last year. He made all eight of his field goal attempts and nine of his 10 extra point attempts.

Johnson appeared in seven games between New Orleans and Washington last year, connecting on all 10 of his field goal attempts (but only nine of his 13 extra point tries). Bertolet, an undrafted free agent back in 2016, has spent time with five NFL teams but hasn’t seen time in a regular season game.

Gonzalez injury himself on Friday night while warming up on the sideline. It was later revealed that he suffered a significant groin injury, with Ellis Williams of the Charlotte Observer writing that it could be a season-ending injury.

Panthers K Zane Gonzalez To Miss Extended Stretch

2:15pm: The Panthers’ search will start with Brian Johnson, a Virginia Tech product who kicked in seven games with Washington and New Orleans last season, Person tweets. Johnson was 10-for-10 on field goal attempts but missed four extra points as a rookie.

1:21pm: After the news of Sam Darnold‘s injury, the Panthers have another veteran set to miss what looks like an extended time period. Zane Gonzalez suffered what Matt Rhule called a significant, long-term injury, David Newton of ESPN.com tweets. He suffered the setback during warmups.

Gonzalez, whom the Panthers re-signed this offseason, sustained a groin injury. As a result, the Panthers are looking for a replacement kicker. Gonzalez, 27, is the only one on Carolina’s roster. The Panthers can stash him on IR after roster cutdown day.

[RELATED: Darnold Expected To Miss 4-6 Weeks]

The former Browns and Cardinals specialist missed the final four games of last season due to a quadriceps injury. He re-signed with the Panthers on a two-year, $4.5MM deal in March. Gonzalez has not kicked in a full season since 2019, when he was with the Cardinals. He connected on a career-high 90.9% of his field goal tries in 2021 and was 22-for-23 on PATs with the Panthers last season.

Carolina has gone through some kicker turnover in recent years. The team moved on from Joey Slye after two seasons and ditched Slye’s replacement — 2021 trade acquisition Ryan Santoso — after one game. Lirim Hajrullahu also worked as the team’s primary Gonzalez replacement. Hajrullahu is available, after the Cowboys waived him last week.

Rhule said the team will look at free agent fill-in options while examining teams with two-kicker rosters presently. Kickers will be available on the waiver wire Tuesday, when rosters must be slashed from 80 to 53 players. New special teams coordinator Chris Tabor will help with the search, per The Athletic’s Joe Person, who notes recently cut Jets kicker Eddy Pineiro will be a name to monitor (Twitter link). Tabor coached Pineiro with the Bears.

Panthers Re-Sign K Zane Gonzalez

The Panthers have re-signed Zane Gonzalez, per a club announcement. The kicker’s two-year deal will pay $4.5MM, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Latest On Panthers, Paradis]

Gonzalez began the year on the Lions practice squad before coming to Carolina in September of 2021. Replacing the likes of Joey Slye and Ryan Santoso, Gonzalez got hot in October, nailing 17 straight field goal tries. He wound up going 20-for-22 for the season, up until he was placed on injured reserve in December with a quad injury. Gonzalez also connected on 22 of his 23 extra point tries.

The Panthers temporarily turned to Lirim Hajrullahu after the injury, but they wanted Gonzalez back for 2022. Even in the midst of larger decisions – including the status of center Matt Paradis — the Panthers were said to be eyeing a new deal for their young kicker. Gonzalez, 27 in May, will return and look to improve upon his career 80.5% field goal rate.

Panthers Expected To Let Matt Paradis Depart In Free Agency; Latest On FA Plans

As Joseph Person of The Athletic (subscription required) writes, the Panthers are likely to part ways with center Matt Paradis, who is eligible for free agency. Pat Elflein, who opened the 2021 season as Carolina’s left guard but who moved over to center following Paradis’ injury, is likely to continue as the starting pivot despite his struggles in that role.

Paradis, 32, signed a three-year, $27MM contract with the Panthers in March 2019, and he started every game for the club from Week 1 of the 2019 season through Week 9 of the 2021 campaign. Unfortunately, a torn ACL suffered in that Week 9 contest ended his walk year prematurely, and it leaves him in a less-than-desirable position as he hits the open market for the second time in his career (interestingly, when he hooked on with the Panthers in 2019, he was coming off a serious leg injury that he sustained in November 2018, which may have limited his earnings then in the same way that his recent ACL tear will limit his earnings now).

Still, given his track record as a solid starter and the fact that he has been quite durable except when he’s playing out a contract year, he should garner a fair amount of attention from teams in need of a center. The Bengals, Jets, and Jaguars are all rumored to be interested in Bucs center Ryan Jensen, and Tampa Bay wants to retain its four-year starter. The losers of the Jensen sweepstakes could turn to Paradis, and the Ravens, who may be unable to afford a new contract for Bradley Bozeman, could also be in play.

The Panthers, meanwhile, will have plenty of work to do on the O-line. Luckily for them, this year’s college class is deep at the LT position, and Carolina could net a high-quality prospect even if it trades down from its No. 6 overall selection. In a separate piece (subscription required), Person opines that the Panthers will not be in the market for a high-priced free agent like longtime division-rival Terron Armstead, so the draft would be the place to nab a blindside blocker. Person does expect the team to sign a free agent guard, and while Brandon Scherff and Laken Tomlinson may be too pricey, old friend Andrew Norwell or Bears OL James Daniels could be viable targets.

In related news, Person says the Panthers do want edge defender Haason Reddick back, but only if the price is right. We recently heard that Reddick is likely to test the open market for the second year in a row. And while the club has not shut the door on a new contract for CB Stephon Gilmore, Person hears that the team is prioritizing a deal with fellow corner Donte Jackson, who is five years younger than Gilmore (both players are also eligible for free agency). GM Scott Fitterer is also doing his due diligence on available safeties.

Finally, the Panthers reportedly want to re-sign K Zane Gonzalez and may be eyeing P Pat O’Donnell as a replacement for Lachlan Edwards.

Panthers Place K Zane Gonzalez On IR

Zane Gonzalez‘s season has come to an end. The Panthers announced today that they placed the veteran kicker on injured reserve. The IR stint will force Gonzalez to miss at least three games, and with only three games remaining on the schedule, his season has effectively come to an end.

The 26-year-old was signed off the Lions practice squad in September, replacing the likes of Joey Slye and Ryan Santoso. Gonzalez missed a field goal in Week 4, but he’s since made 17-straight, making him 20-for-22 for the season. The veteran also connected on 22 of his 23 extra point tries. Gonzalez will be a free agent this offseason.

Gonzalez suffered a quad injury prior to Sunday’s win over the Bills. Wideout Brandon Zylstra was forced to handle kickoffs, while the team generally went for fourth downs and two-point conversations without a healthy kicker.

The Panthers will temporarily turn to Lirim Hajrullahu, who was signed off the Washington Football Team practice squad today. The 31-year-old made his NFL debut earlier this season. connecting on five extra point tries for the Cowboys. Carolina also added kicker Alex Kessman to the practice squad.

 

Panthers Cut K Ryan Santoso, Sign K Zane Gonzalez

The Panthers have made their decision. Carolina is cutting kicker Ryan Santoso after just one game, a source told Joe Person of The Athletic (Twitter link). The team then announced they would be signing kicker Zane Gonzalez off the Lions’ practice squad to replace him.

It was a move that was time sensitive because of the Panthers’ trade for Santoso a few weeks ago. Carolina agreed to acquire Santoso from the Giants, and the deal stipulated that they’d send a seventh-round pick to New York if Santoso was on the active roster for two games. Essentially, they had a one week free trial on the kicker, and decided he wasn’t worth the late-round pick.

Santoso made both of his field goal attempts in the team’s Week 1 win over the Jets, but he did miss one of his two extra point attempts. The Panthers cut Joey Slye at final cuts, and they also have Dominik Eberle on the practice squad. Gonzalez was the Browns’ kicker in all 16 games in 2017, and he spent most of the past two seasons as the Cardinals’ full-time kicker. Because he was signed off another team’s practice squad, Carolina will need to keep him on the active roster for at least three weeks.

The Giants will now get nothing in return for the man they had behind Graham Gano during the preseason. Teams apparently thought highly enough of Santoso, who has spent some time in the CFL, to warrant a trade for him, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he gets another shot with somebody soon.

Wednesday NFL Transactions: NFC North

Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These BearsLionsPackers and Vikings moves are noted below.

Here are Wednesday’s NFC North transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

Chicago Bears

Claimed:

Signed:

Waived:

Placed on IR:

Signed to practice squad:

Detroit Lions

Released/Waived:

Signed to practice squad:

Green Bay Packers

Signed to practice squad:

Minnesota Vikings

Signed:

Claimed:

Placed on IR:

Signed to practice squad:

Lions Down To 53

The Lions have their 53-man roster in place. On Tuesday, the Lions officially cut:

Released

Waived

Placed on Reserve/Suspended

The Lions will carry three quarterbacks for now in Jard Goff, Tim Boyle, and David Blough. Boyle is currently dealing with an injured thumb, which will keep him sidelined for two months. But, in order to hang on to him and dress him ASAP, they’ll have to carry him on their initial 53-man roster. Fortunately, Goff has proven largely durable during his five-year career. He did not miss a start due to injury until late last season, when a thumb surgery sidelined him.

Lions Sign K Zane Gonzalez

After losing longtime kicker Matt Prater to the Cardinals in free agency, the Lions have added Arizona’s previous kicker. Zane Gonzalez agreed to a one-year deal with the Lions on Tuesday, according to his agency (Twitter link).

Detroit used Prater as its kicker from 2014-20, but he left for Arizona in March. The Lions signed former Bengals specialist Randy Bullock, but they have now added some veteran competition.

Gonzalez, 26, kicked for the Cardinals from 2018-20, catching on in the desert after the Browns cut him early in the 2018 season. The former seventh-round Browns pick fared well in 2019, making more than 86% of his field goal tries. Last season, Gonzalez was less effective (73%) and played a role in the Cards’ late-season swoon. He missed a 45-yard field goal in a three-point loss to the Patriots and saw another game-tying try — a 49-yarder — fall short of the uprights in a three-point loss to the Dolphins.

Bullock, 31, is a nine-year veteran who spent the past four years as the Bengals’ kicker. To make room for Gonzalez on their roster, the Lions are waiving kicker Matthew Wright, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).