Kasay agrees to four-year contract extension with Panthers
On Wednesday, two days after his 39th birthday and in the midst of a streak of 21 consecutive made field goals, the last original Panther decided he was far from finished, signing another four-year extension that keeps him entrenched as Carolina's kicker through the 2012 season.
"I figured this would be a retirement speech a few years ago. But I've been very blessed and very thankful," Kasay said. "To have the opportunity to still do the very same thing that I was doing when I was 12 years old, I wouldn't have guessed it in a million years."
With Kasay still one of the NFL's top kickers, Carolina was happy to keep him -- even if he'll be 43 at the end of the deal. Kasay negotiated the contract on his own and did not release financial figures.
"We are very pleased to know that John is going to remain a Carolina Panther," general manager Marty Hurney said. "He has meant so much to the organization and is valuable in many ways."
The left-footer is 16-of-16 this season and hasn't missed since Dec. 16. Kasay connected from 23 and 50 yards in Sunday's 27-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals, passing Jan Stenerud for eighth place on the NFL's career list with 374 field goals.
"I never thought I would be in this situation," Kasay said. "I had always hoped to be able to play a long time, to make a good contribution. The things that I have been given back are probably 100 times the benefit that I have been given."
A fourth-round pick of Seattle in 1991, the Georgia product kicked for the Seahawks for four years before the expansion Panthers made him one of their first free-agent signings in 1995.
Kasay has overcome a broken kneecap and a sports hernia that wiped out most of two seasons to become almost automatic. He's made nearly 85 percent of his attempts in his 14th season with Carolina and has converted 106 straight extra points.
"As soon as the offense loses confidence in me, I'll walk in and retire," Kasay said. "Because it doesn't do any good for what those guys have to go through and sacrifice. If they don't feel confident we can get three points out of this, then I need to shut it down. I need to stop because it's hurting them and it's hurting this organization."
Kasay has had few bad days, although the low point was five years ago when he shanked the kickoff out of bounds after the Panthers had rallied to tie New England with 1:06 left in the Super Bowl. It gave the Patriots the ball on the 40, and it led to Adam Vinatieri's game-winning 41-yard field goal with four seconds left.
Rhys Lloyd replaced Kasay on kickoffs this season, allowing him to focus solely on field goals and extra points. And Kasay's goal remains to get back to the Super Bowl -- and this time win it for owner Jerry Richardson.
"This is a Super Bowl organization," Kasay said. "And I look forward to the day to have the opportunity to be on a team to be able to give that gift to the Richardson family, that has made a huge number of sacrifices to help this city, to help this community and to help a lot of us as employees."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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