Former Carolina Panthers placekicker John Kasay did not stay unemployed for long.
An NFL source told me this Tuesday morning and it was officially announced by the Saints Tuesday afternoon six hours later -- Kasay has officially signed with the Saints to be a placekicker for the team.
Kasay, 41, could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Saints have used Garrett Hartley as their primary placekicker for the past three seasons and he has been mostly successful. But Hartley got hurt late in the Saints' 40-20 exhibition win over Oakland late Saturday on an extra point and the Saints went for two after that when they scored on touchdowns. The extent of the injury is unclear, but coach Sean Payton said afterward something to the effect that Hartley had "tweaked his hip."
Depending on the extent of the injury, Kasay's employment with the Saints could be a short- or long-term deal.
Hartley made three field goals of more than 40 yards in the Saints' Super Bowl win and he was 20-for-25 last season, a FG percentage only slightly worse than Kasay's (who has made 82 percent of his FG attempts in his career). However, on at least one occasion in the past the Saints have signed veteran John Carney to take Hartley's place temporarily (before eventually releasing Carney).
The Saints have occasionally kept two kickers on their active roster -- Hartley and Carney -- under coach Sean Payton.
Kasay, who was on the Panthers' roster from their inaugural year of 1995 until being released recently in favor of Olindo Mare, has long had very good success kicking in the New Orleans Superdome. Most all kickers love to kick inside a dome's climate-controlled conditions. He beat the Saints with game-winning field goals in the dome at least twice.
When Kasay was released by the Panthers, he penned a gracious handwritten letter to all Carolina Panther fans and entrusted it to me to publish. This was my column about the letter.
If Hartley doesn't come back quickly from injury, Kasay could kick against his former team, the Panthers, twice a season. The first time would come Oct.9th in Bank of America Stadium, when the Saints visit Charlotte. The Saints open the NFL regular season a week from Thursday -- three days earlier than the rest of the league -- against the Green Bay Packers.
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