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Panthers 2021 season opener countdown: 9 days to go

We’re counting down the days until the Panthers kick off the 2021 season.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

We’re only nine days away from the start of the Panthers’ 2021 season, so today’s countdown piece will be dedicated to the player on the roster currently wearing No. 9 — kicker Ryan Santoso.

The Panthers traded a conditional 2022 seventh round draft pick to the Giants for the 26-year-old Santoso (6-5, 260) last week to give former kicker Joey Slye some competition in the final preseason game. Santoso ended up winning the job after making all five of his kicks — going 2-for-2 in field goal attempts (including a 52-yarder) and 3-for-3 in extra points — in the team’s 34-9 preseason win over the Steelers.

Santoso has been around the block a few times in his brief NFL career as you can see in his list of transactions below, courtesy of the Panthers’ website:

Signed as undrafted free agent by Detroit (5/11/18). Waived by Detroit (9/1/18). Re-signed by Detroit (1/3/19). Waived by Detroit (8/30/19). Signed by Tennessee (11/27/19). Waived by Tennessee (12/17/19). Signed to Giants practice squad (9/6/20). Elevated to active roster on Nov. 17, 2020 and Jan. 2, 2021. Signed to reserve/futures contract by Giants (1/26/21). Acquired by trade by Carolina (8/26/21).

The Panthers will send the Giants the higher of their two seventh round picks (acquired from the Titans and Patriots) provided Santoso plays in two games for Carolina this season. If he does not play in two games, the Panthers do not owe a pick to the Giants.

Santoso has never attempted a field goal in a regular season NFL game, but from what we saw from him in the preseason finale, he should be a decent upgrade over Joey Slye (who had struggled with accuracy throughout the preseason). The regular season opener against the Jets will be an important game for Santoso, because if he struggles the team could just cut bait with him and bring in someone else to avoid sending a draft pick over to the Giants.

What do you think, Panthers fans? Will Santoso stick around for two or more games this year, or will the Panthers find someone else to save their draft pick? Share your thoughts with us!