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Panthers sign Graham Gano to four-year deal

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Graham Gano inked a four-year deal with the Panthers Friday.
Graham Gano inked a four-year deal with the Panthers Friday.(USATSI)

The Panthers locked down one of their impending free agents on Friday, although it wasn't necessarily the one everyone's waiting for. Instead it was kicker Graham Gano, who got a four-year deal from the Panthers.

Gano, in his second season with the Panthers, had a fantastic year, hitting 88.9 percent of his kicks and making all 42 of his extra points.

"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," 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."

The last time the Panthers gave a kicker a big contract it didn't work out so well. They inked Olindo Mare in free agency to a big deal but he didn't even make it to 2012 before getting cut. Gano, who got his start in the NFL with the Redskins, split time that year with Justin Medlock and eventually took hold of the job.

Gano was strong on kickoffs too, recording touchdbacks on 77.8 percent of his kickoffs, which is the largest percentage since 1994.

He at least has a good pedigree, having won the Lou Groza Award in his final year at Florida State. Gano will now get a chance to build on that pedigree over the next four years in Carolina.

And it will probably mean Gano can hire somebody to mow his neighbors' lawns.

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