<
>

Carolina re-signs unrestricted free-agent kicker

The Panthers began the tough task of re-signing their list of unrestricted free agents by reaching a five-year agreement with kicker John Kasay.

Kasay is the first of the Panthers' 17 unrestricted free agents to reach an agreement. ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli reports the contract is worth $8.1 million and makes Kasay, on average, one of the league's highest paid kickers. The contract includes a $2 million signing bonus and base salaries of $800,000 (2004), $1.2 million (2005), $1.3 million (2006), $1.3 million (2007) and $1.5 million (2008).

A 13-year NFL veteran who represents himself, Kasay has been with
the Panthers since the team began in 1995. He was due to become an
unrestricted free agent March 3.

"It has been a good process for me over the years," Kasay said
of negotiating his own contract. "I definitely foresee this
being my last contract. This gives me an opportunity to be here
for a long time and I am very appreciative of that."

The only remaining member from the Panthers' inaugural season, Kasay is the team's all-time leading scorer with 220
field goals and 759 points.

However, Kasay may be best known for flubbing the Panthers' last kickoff in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

The kickoff, which sailed out of bounds with 1:08 remaining, gave the Patriots the ball on their own 40. Six players later, New England won its second Super Bowl in three years when Adam Vinatieri's 41-yard field goal put New England ahead 32-39 with 4 seconds left.

"I was very disappointed with the consequences of what happed
for my mistake," Kasay said of the kickoff. "It is not an easy
job sometimes."

That clouded an otherwise outstanding season for the 34-year-old
Kasay, who converted 32-of-38 field-goal-attempts, including
four game-winners, three of which came from 47 yards or longer.

"He (Kasay) was a big part of our success this past season,"
said Panthers coach John Fox.

On Monday, the Panthers learned that guard Kevin Donnalley will retire rather than try to seek a new contract. Negotiations for the other Panthers are under way. Heading the list are free safety Deon Grant, cornerback Reggie Howard, guard Jeno James and defensive end Al Wallace.

Information from ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com's John Clayton, The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.