Carolina’s Tale of Two Kickers appears to be over – but there’s still a chance it continues.
A source confirmed to the Observer on Wednesday afternoon that the Panthers claimed cornerback LaDarius Gunter off of waivers. Gunter was released by the Green Bay Packers the day before.
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The Panthers later confirmed the pickup and also its corresponding move: The release of rookie kicker and seventh-round draft pick Harrison Butker.
Butker was brought in as the first-ever kicker drafted by the Panthers in direct correlation to a poor 2016 performance by veteran Graham Gano. The two were in a close competition all spring and throughout training camp and the preseason, but after Gano earned the start last Sunday in Carolina’s season-opener in San Francisco, the job appeared to be his.
Head coach Ron Rivera seemed open to the possibility of keeping two kickers when speaking to media last week. If Butker clears waivers, he may be brought back as a member of the Panthers’ practice squad.
Meanwhile, Gunter, a former undrafted free agent out of Miami who has shown flashes of promise at times in his two-year NFL career, will provide depth at corner for Carolina.