Gano could have been a candidate for the franchise tag, seriously

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Yes, the Panthers have signed a free agent.  Yes, he’s the kicker.

And, yes, the Panthers likely at least considered using the franchise tag on Gano.

The fact that the deal reportedly is worth $12.4 million over four years proves that the Panthers value him in the same range as the franchise tag for kickers, which was $2.977 million in 2013.

Though few regard kickers or punters as franchise players, the one-year rate for specialists has made it an attractive designation in recent years.  In 2013, the Colts tagged punter Pat McAfee.  The year before, five kickers were tagged:  Mike Nugent, Phil Dawson, Matt Prater, Josh Scobee, and Connor Barth.

Signing Gano frees up the tag for use on someone else — like defensive end Greg Hardy.  And while Hardy is much more valuable to the overall team efforts, using the tag on Gano would have been a lot cheaper.