CHARLOTTE - And then there were none.
"He's meant so much to this organization," General Manager Marty Hurney said. "He's such a class individual with what he has meant to not only this organization but to this community."
Hurney said he told Kasay of the decision Wednesday after the Panthers formulated an alternative plan for their kicking game going forward. The free agent signing period officially begins Friday at 6 p.m. ET.
"We informed him that there were a couple of guys out there that we might go after. When it was clear we were going to get one, I called him and told him," Hurney said. "I think he was surprised and had a thousand different emotions going through his body, just like anybody would. It's just hard. This is the part of the job that's not very fun."
Hurney said that Kasay, one of just two 20-year veterans in the NFL last season along with quarterback Brett Favre, was in part of victim of the condensed free agent period NFL teams are still wading through.
"When you have to do it this way, it's difficult," Hurney said. "Say if we were to draft a kicker, then you could have taken it to a competition and let it play out in training camp. But when you go after a veteran free agent and structure the contract the way it has to be structured, then it's not a fair competition because the money you put into that player basically dictates that you're going to keep him."
Hurney praised Kasay for always being "solid and dependable," as he was again in 2010, when he converted 25 of 29 field goals - including a 55-yarder. The 41-year-old Kasay, however, hasn't handled kickoffs since 2007, forcing the team to have three kickers on the active roster rather than just two like most NFL teams.
"With the kickoff situation, we've always carried three kickers, but you'd always rather carry two kickers," Hurney said. "Now with the change in the kickoff rules moving the kickoff up five yards (from the 30 to the 35-yard line), we all agree that you can take a lot of pressure off your coverage teams if you have a guy who can kick it out of the end zone.
"If you have someone who can kick it out of the end zone and be an efficient field goal kicker, that's the goal. I think we felt like there was an opportunity to get one of those guys."
Kasay departs as the team's all-time leader with 351 field goals and 1,482 points, and he currently ranks seventh in NFL history with 433 field goals and eighth in scoring with 1,823 points. Kasay spent the past 16 seasons with the Panthers after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.
Kasay drilled a pair of game-winning field goals in the Panthers' inaugural season of 1995, including one in overtime at the New England Patriots that gave the franchise its first road victory. He has 13 game-winners in his career, 11 with the Panthers.
He opened the 1996 season with a pair of 5-for-5 field goal games, just the second time an NFL kicker had gone 10-for-10 over two games. He finished the season with 145 points, third-most in NFL history for kickers at the time and still a top-10 mark.
One of his six 100-point scoring seasons with the Panthers came with the 2003 team that reached the Super Bowl. That season, Kasay tied an NFL record with five field goals in a postseason game, helping Carolina knock off the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs.
The Panthers also released defensive ends