As the Carolina Panthers prepare for the upcoming 2021 NFL season, one of their biggest problems in the preseason has been kicking field goals. Third-year kicker Joey Slye has been inconsistent through the team's first two preseason games, which led to the Panthers acquiring Ryan Santoso on Thursday from the New York Giants in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick.
Ryan Santoso Kicker
Anyone who has been following the Panthers as of late could've seen this move coming. After all, it was only earlier this week that Carolina head coach Matt Rhule told reporters that something had to change even if he believes in Slye.
"At the same time, we have to continue to bring in competition so we can put what we think is the best opportunity to win out there."- Matt Rhule on Panthers' kicking issues
The trade comes after Slye has missed a field goal and two extra point attempts through Carolina's first two preseason games. The 25-year-old hit just 80.6% of his field goals last year — ranking 22nd among kickers who played at least 12 games. Considering how a percentage like that leaves too much room for error, it's unsurprising that the Panthers are looking at other options.
Meanwhile, after going undrafted in 2018, Santoso has yet to attempt his first NFL field goal. He's spent most of the past few seasons bouncing around practices squads in both the NFL and Canadian Football League, aside from performing kickoffs for three games with the Tennessee Titans in 2019.
Santoso proved fantastic on extra point attempts in college, connecting on 98.7% of them. However, he struggled a bit when it came field goals (74.4%). Nevertheless, some healthy competition between Santoso and Slye will give Carolina its best chance at success in 2021.
The Panthers will need a lot more than consistent kicking to go on a championship run this season. Their +9000 odds to win Super Bowl 56 rank sixth worst in the NFL, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
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