The coaching staff in Carolina insists that there is no kicking competition but with Gano unable to kick for nearly all of preseason, should there be?
Graham Gano is fresh off of a 4 year $17 mil extension he signed this offseason, so why would the Panthers cut ties with the kicker who’s been their most consistent player at the position since John Kasay? An injury to his non-kicking leg has caused him to miss more time than expected and Rivera is reportedly “uneasy about the situation.”
Suga, Suga How Ya Get So Slye?
All Joey Slye has done is make the most of his opportunity, nailing every FG attempt this preseason including a pair of 50+ yards. The success of Slye has also caused some tension. When asked when he would kick again, Gano offered an answer that seemed riddled with frustration and distrust toward the coaching and medical staff, “I don’t know, you’ll have to ask the team that.” For a guy who is usually loose at practice, this is a bit concerning.
The big question is can Gano kick in the preseason finale against the Steelers? If not, there’s got to be a real possibility of Slye starting the season as the Panthers kicker. Should Gano be healthy and start the season, the Panthers will probably use Slye as trade bait for a team like Chicago.
This isn’t the first time the Panthers have had this problem in recent years. Harrison Butker was a 7th round draft pick by Carolina and pushed Gano for the job but ultimately, Gano won the job and Butker was sent to the practice squad. The Chiefs then signed Butker off of the Panthers practice squad. Butker has been phenomenal in his short career thus far. Setting the record for most made FG by a rookie at 38 and setting a plethora of chiefs records.
Only time will tell if the Panthers decide to go with an unproven kicker or the one they’ve grown comfortable with. One thing is for sure though, it’s Gano’s job to lose.