The Panthers had prepared for life without punter Brad Nortman, and now they’ll get to know it.
The former sixth-round draft pick will go to Jacksonville on a four-year contract worth $8.8 million after the Panthers did not sign him in free agency, a league source confirmed.
A Panthers source indicated Carolina offered a low-level deal that Nortman did not accept.
Nortman, a member of the Carolina special teams unit nicknamed the “bomb squad,” had an up-and-down tenure in Carolina. In 2013 he set a franchise record with a gross punting average of 47.8 yards, and he hovered around 45 the next two seasons.
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The Panthers brought in three punters for tryouts following Carolina’s Week 3 win against New Orleans in which a deep Nortman punt was returned for a touchdown. Carolina didn’t sign any of the punters, and it was considered to be a wakeup call to Nortman.
Nortman became the first and only punter to ever be drafted by Carolina in 2012. His punting average of 45.4 yards ranked 18th in the league last season, and his net of 39.8 yards was 17th.
Anticipating that Nortman wouldn’t come back to Carolina, the Panthers signed Swayze Waters, the 2014 special teams player of the year in the Canadian Football League, just four days after their Super Bowl 50 loss.
Waters, who spent four years in Canada, missed most of last season with a hip injury. He spent time in offseasons between 2009-2011 with the Lions, Steelers and Raiders.
Last offseason Carolina signed kicker Graham Gano to a four-year deal worth $12.4 million, and earlier this offseason the Panthers inked J.J. Jansen to a five-year extension worth $5.5 million.
Nortman goes to Jacksonville and replaces fellow 2012 draft pick Bryan Anger, who is known for being selected four picks ahead of Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson.