CHARLOTTE – The Panthers have rewarded punter Michael Palardy for his consistent contributions with a three-year contract extension through the 2021 season. He could have become a restricted free agent after the 2018 season.
"It's a real special feeling," said Palardy, who put pen to paper Tuesday afternoon with his wife and three children by his side. "We're very fortunate that the organization thinks highly enough of us to want us to be around for a little while.
"Going forward, this means to work even harder to continue trying to help this team win football games."
Palardy, the Panthers' punter since midway through the 2016 season, set a franchise record with a 42.4-yard net punting average in 2017 along with a gross average of 46.0.
So far this season, Palardy's net average has inched up to 42.7 and his gross average is at 45.9. Eight of his 14 punts have pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line, a 57-percent success rate that is the best among the 10 punters with at least eight punts inside the 20.
After a solid career at the University of Tennessee that saw Palardy end up second in school history in net punting and third in field goal percentage, Palardy bounced around the league before earning his big break with Carolina.
Before the Panthers brought him in halfway through the 2016 season to replace injured veteran Andy Lee, Palardy had spent time with seven teams since his rookie year in 2014. That included spending part of the 2016 offseason with the Panthers – the only team for which he's kicked in regular season competition.
"When you look back at my first two-and-a-half years out of college, there were definitely times when I questioned if I was going to continue playing, if I was going to get the right opportunity," Palardy said. "When I finally got my shot, it was very emotional, very overwhelming. And this point right now is the exclamation point.
"Looking back on it, I appreciate the adversity, appreciate the hard times. It gives me a different perspective."