Panthers re-sign K Graham Gano to 4-year deal

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Kicker Graham Gano believes he’s found a home in Carolina.

Gano became the first of Carolina’s 20 soon-to-be unrestricted free agents to re-sign with the Panthers on Friday, signing a four-year contract.

Financial terms were not released.

“I’m really excited to be back in Carolina,” Gano said. “It is where my family and I wanted to be. I love the organization and feel this is the best place for me.”

The 26-year-old Gano is coming off a successful season, converting 24 of 27 field goal attempts while helping the team to a 12-4 record and the NFC South title.

He set a franchise record and tied for the NFL lead with six made field goals from 50 yards or more. He was the only NFL kicker with three or more attempts from 50 yards or more without a miss from that distance.

“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,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said in a news release. “Graham has shown range and accuracy in his field goal kicking, and his strong leg has been a weapon for us on kickoffs.”

Of his 82 kickoffs, 76 reached the end zone, including 63 for touchbacks, the highest percentage in the NFL since 1994.

A five-year NFL veteran, Gano spent his first three seasons with the Washington Redskins. He has converted 92 of 118 field goal attempts in his career.

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

Gano feels like he has some stability on the team, which has helped his game.

“When I was in Washington I went through four holders and that took some getting used to,” Gano said. “I finally got comfortable there and made my last 14 of 17 field goals. I’ve carried over that consistency to Carolina.”

Gano said he was celebrating the new deal by taking his son to Chic-fil-A.

Carolina’s other unrestricted free agents include quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Jimmy Clausen, wide receivers Domenik Hixon, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr., tight end Ben Hartsock, offensive linemen Geoff Hangartner, Travelle Wharton, Garry Williams and Bruce Campbell, defensive end Greg Hardy, defensive tackle Colin Cole, linebackers Jordan Senn, Jason Williams and Dan Connor, safeties Quintin Mikell and Mike Mitchell, and cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn and Drayton Florence.

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