The longtime Carolina Panthers kicker was released by the team on Thursday.
Earlier this year, the Carolina Panthers made a long-term investment in former Baylor Bears head coach Matt Rhule to build and guide their team to glory. Rhule is obviously implementing a youth movement, as evidenced by the team parting ways with veterans Cam Newton and Greg Olsen. That trend continued on Thursday as the Panthers released kicker Graham Gano and handed the reins over to Joey Slye.
Now, Gano is on the open market after eight years in Charlotte. When putting the puzzle pieces together, there’s only one true opening that makes sense for Gano: the New York Giants. That’s right, the very team in which Gano kicked a game-winning 63-yard field goal against back in 2018.
Giants are the only team with a pressing need for a kicker
The Giants kicking position was never really solid, to begin with. After making the Pro Bowl in 2018, Aldrick Rosas struggled mightily last season, as he missed 5-of-17 field goal attempts and missed 4-of-39 extra-point tries. After being charged for a troubling hit-and-run incident in June, the Giants chose to part ways earlier this week.
In response, the Giants signed veteran kicker Chandler Catanzaro, who retired last year after having a terrible preseason with the New York Jets. While he was signed to a deal, it’s not set in stone that he’ll be the starting kicker for the team’s regular-season opener. Signing Gano makes too much sense for the Giants.
Before running the Giants front office, Dave Gettleman was the general manager of the Panthers. As we’ve seen in his nearly three years with the club, he’s not afraid to go back to the well and sign his former Carolina players. We saw it back in 2018 when the Giants signed running back Jonathan Stewart and this offseason when Gettleman inked cornerback James Bradberry to a massive three-year deal. You simply can’t rule out Gettleman giving Gano a call to offer him a starting gig.
Let’s not forget that the Giants were pursuing Gano when he was a free agent in 2018. However, Gano opted to stay in Carolina.
Besides Gettleman, Gano has ties with current Giants special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey. He served in that very same role with the Panthers in the 2016 and 2017 campaigns, with the latter being a career year for Gano. In 2017, Gano made 29-of-30 field goal attempts (96.7% conversion rate), which earned him his lone Pro Bowl nomination. It makes sense for the two to reunite, as McGaughey has long been praised for his work on special teams, especially on the bad Giants teams these past two seasons.
There is one concern regarding Gano, his health. Gano missed the entire 2019 campaign after he picked up a season-ending injury to his left leg.A t this rate, however, it wouldn’t hurt the Giants to call Gano in for a physical to see if he’ll be good to go for the upcoming season.
Either way, the Giants and Gano seem to be a perfect match. While this is all speculation, you can virtually guarantee that the two sides will meet in the coming days or weeks.