Free agent kicker Graham Gano ranks high on the Carolina Panthers’ priority list, but the Pro Bowler is on at least one other NFC team’s offseason wish list, as well.
The New York Giants and former Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman plan to pursue Gano if he makes it to free agency, according to Dan Duggan of NJ.com.
Gano, 30, is coming off a season in which he led the NFL in field goal accuracy (96.7 percent) by making 29 of his 30 kicks and earned the first Pro Bowl berth of his nine-year career.
The Panthers would like to lock Gano up with a long-term deal, although GM Marty Hurney also has the franchise tag as an option. The tag for kickers and punters is expected to be worth around $5 million this year.
“(Gano) is high up on that priority list,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera told reporters Thursday at the NFL scouting combine. “And as far as the tag and all that good stuff, that’s something that Marty’s going to have to deal with and take care of.”
Gettleman drafted Georgia Tech kicker Harrison Butker in the seventh round last year, but was fired before Butker and Gano competed for the job in training camp. The Panthers kept Gano, and Butker went on to have a strong rookie season with Kansas City.
In discussing the Panthers’ other free agents Thursday, Rivera said:
▪ Hurney plans to reach out to veteran defensive end Julius Peppers “sooner rather than later” about whether Peppers plans to play this season. Peppers, 38, has been rehabbing following shoulder surgery while he mulls his future.
▪ It’s “going to be tough” to re-sign left guard Andrew Norwell, who greatly improved his market with an All-Pro season in 2017. Rivera said second-year lineman Taylor Moton, who played tackle as a rookie, also can play guard.