Carolina counting on Kasay

The Carolina Panthers still think John Kasay can kick well into his 40s. That's why the Panthers handed Kasay a four-year contract extension on Wednesday. Kasay, who is 16-for-16 on field-goal attempts this year and has made 21 straight dating back to last season, is now under contract through the 2012 season, when he'll be 43 years old.

That may be old for a lot of players, but it's not uncommon for a kicker to play into his 40s.

Especially one as good as Kasay.

Kasay, who turned 39 earlier in the week, is off to his best season ever. He's 8-for-8 from beyond 40 yards and on Sunday hit a crucial 50-yarder late in the game against Arizona with plenty of room to spare.

The only player remaining from the original Panthers 1995 expansion team, Kasay is Carolina's all-time leading scorer with 1,217 points and last week passed Hall of Fame kicker Jan Stenerud for eighth place in NFL career field goals with 374. He is just nine behind Nick Lowery for seventh place all-time.

"I can't say that I thought I would be standing here today," Kasay said. "I just turned 39 the other day. Announcing that I would be signing another contract, well I thought it would be more of a retirement speech a few years ago.

"But I have been very blessed and I'm very thankful to this organization and the Richardson family. I can't tell you how kind they have been to me and my family. To be doing the same thing I was doing when I was a kid, I wouldn't have guessed that in a million years. It's been a huge blessing."

Kasay said he had no idea he passed Stenerud on the NFL's all-time field-goal list or even where he stands overall.

"That is really the first I've heard of it," Kasay said. "I really don't know and I don't want to know. That isn't why I play. I wasn't kicking the ball in the backyard when I was six years old for records. I did it because I enjoyed it. And it's still fun for me. We kicked the ball today (in practice) and it's still neat to watch the ball fly at 39."

Kasay has been through some knee injuries in the past and has battled back and remains at the top of his game.

He was in the final year of his contract, which had been renewed in 2003.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"We are very pleased to know that John is going to remain a Carolina Panther," general manager Marty Hurney said. "He has meant so much to the organization and is valuable in many ways."

Kasay said he plans to continue to kick until he's no longer productive.

"I have said this before, as soon as the offense loses confidence in me, I will walk in and retire," Kasay said. "Because it doesn't do any good for what those guys have to go through and sacrifice. If they don't feel confident that we can get three points, then I need to shut it down. I will need to stop because it is hurting them and this organization and I will never do that."

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