CHARLOTTE -- The Carolina Panthers gave the first indication they wanted to improve their field position in December, when they signed kicker Rhys Lloyd for the last game of the season.
They've given a more serious indication by signing Lloyd to a two-year contract.
The 25-year-old Lloyd, a kickoff specialist, played the final game of the year for the Panthers after spending most of the year bouncing from Baltimore's practice squad to the active roster. According to his agent, the Panthers had been monitoring his progress, making the decision to bring him back a "no-brainer."
"They've been following him for quite a while, so this was no surprise," agent Christopher Murray said Monday.
Lloyd was an exclusive rights free agent, meaning he couldn't negotiate with other teams.
The move shouldn't be construed as a lack of faith in veteran kicker John Kasay, just in his ability to kick off well. The Panthers were 19th in the league in opponent's drive start last year (29.0). They led the league in kickoffs out of bounds (six, of which Kasay had five) and had a league-low two touchbacks until Lloyd belted a pair in Week 17 at Tampa Bay.
The 38-year-old Kasay, the last remaining member of the inaugural 1995 team, had an otherwise good year. He connected on 24-of-28 field goals (85.7 percent), better than his career average of 80.7 percent.
Kasay's under contract through 2008, and said when he signed his five-year extension in 2004 he said he anticipated it being his last deal.