John Kasay back to Panthers? Doubt it

Let the speculation begin in the Carolinas. Kicker John Kasay has been released by the New Orleans Saints, Mike Triplett reports.

That means Garrett Hartley won out over Kasay in what was perhaps the most interesting position battle in all of the NFC South.

You know what the next question is: Could Kasay, one of the most popular players in Carolina history, be headed back to the Panthers?

I get the romance of it all. Kasay joined the Panthers in their 1995 expansion season. He lasted way longer than any of the original Panthers. He was a fan favorite and well-liked by everyone in the organization. When the Panthers released Kasay last year, many fans were irate. They became even angrier when replacement Olindo Mare missed some big field goal attempts last season.

Now, throw in the fact that Justin Medlock, who beat out Mare in the preseason, missed two long attempts in Thursday night’s preseason finale and it’s easy to understand why a lot of Carolina fans are calling for the Panthers to bring back Kasay.

But that’s a real long shot. First off, the Panthers aren’t going to judge Medlock just on one game. The two field goals he missed were from 56 yards and 50 yards and they came in Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field. No NFL kicker ever has made a field goal of more than 50 yards in that stadium. Medlock kicked very well during training camp and the first two preseason games.

Even if the Panthers aren’t totally comfortable with Medlock, I think they’d sign another kicker before bringing back Kasay, 42. Remember, when the Panthers decided to let Kasay go, it was because they didn’t feel he could handle kickoffs and they didn’t want to use up another roster spot on a kicker. Rookie punter Brad Nortman doesn’t kick off. If the Panthers do make a move for a kicker it will be for someone who can handle kickoffs and field goals.

I’m guessing the next time you see Kasay in a Carolina uniform will be when the Panthers unveil a statue of him outside of Bank of America Stadium soon after he retires.