Panthers lock up kicker Graham Gano with long-term deal

Panthers lock up kicker Graham Gano with long-term deal
Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano (9) has signed a new four-year deal with the team (David T. Foster III | Charlotte Observer)

CHARLOTTE, NC (Joseph Person/The Charlotte Observer) - The Carolina Panthers have locked up Pro Bowl kicker Graham Gano with a new, four-year contract, the team announced Tuesday.

Terms were not immediately available.

The Panthers were prepared to use the franchise tag, at a cost of nearly $5 million this season, to keep him from becoming a free agent if they were unable to get a deal done.

Teams have until 4 p.m. Tuesday to use the tag, and that deadline likely played a part in the two sides reaching an agreement.

Gano, 30, is coming off the best season of his career. He led the NFL in field goal percentage (96.7) after making 29 of his 30 kicks and earning the first Pro Bowl berth of his nine-year career.

The Panthers were $24 million below the NFL's $177 million salary cap as of Tuesday afternoon, a figure that includes $4.4 million in unused cap room from last year that rolled over.