Panthers sign Gano to four-year deal


CHARLOTTE – Kicker Graham Gano gave the Panthers a leg up on special teams last season.

Now he's set to do the same for seasons to come.

Gano, coming off his best season as a pro, re-signed with the Panthers on Friday through the 2017 season. He was among 20 players on last year's roster that could become unrestricted free agents when the new league year begins March 11.

"The special teams unit was a large part of our success last year, and we are excited to keep Graham as a part of our team," head coach Ron Rivera said. "Graham has shown range and accuracy in his field goal kicking, and his strong leg has been a weapon for us on kickoffs."

Gano, in his fifth NFL season – his first full season with the Panthers – made a career-best 88.9 percent of his field goals, connecting on 24-of-27 kicks while making all 42 on his extra points.

Gano was especially good from long range, setting a franchise record and tying for the NFL lead with six field goals of 50 yards or more. He converted on all of his 50-plus-yard attempts, including a game-winning 53-yarder at San Francisco in Week 10. No one else in the NFL made more than three kicks from 50 or more yards without a miss.

Gano's strong leg got the job done on kickoffs as well. He recorded touchbacks on 77.8 percent of his kickoffs, the highest percentage in the NFL since 1994.

"I feel like I really found my kicking form, and now I'm just going to try to keep on improving," Gano said. "I'm very excited for my family. This is the place I've wanted to be all along. I love this organization and love our fans. I feel very blessed and fortunate."

Undrafted out of Florida State in 2009 despite winning the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker, Gano kicked for the Washington Redskins his first three seasons before signing with the Panthers midway through the 2012 season. In 22 games with Carolina, has has converted 33-of-38 field goal attempts, including 7-of-8 from 50-plus yards.

In 2010 with Washington, Gano tied the NFL record for the most overtime field goals in a season with three, previously accomplished by John Kasay for Carolina in 2003 and Jason Hanson for Detroit in 1994.

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