Panthers kicker Eddy Pineiro skipping OTAs while seeking new contract

Pineiro has the third-highest field-goal percentage in NFL history

NFL players skipping minicamps and organized team activities (OTAs) amid contract disputes are sure to make news, especially when a star such as Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson doesn't show up.

Other players whose OTA attendance is in question include San Francisco 49ers receiver Brandon Aiyuk, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward, Dallas Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb and Cincinnati Bengals pass-catcher Tee Higgins.

But how often does a kicker stay away from OTAs while looking for a new contract? The Carolina Panthers are facing that situation with Eddy Pineiro, who was absent from the team's practice session on Monday.

Pineiro, 28, is signed through the 2024-25 season, the final year of the two-year contract he agreed to with Carolina in 2023. However, he's looking for a raise above the $2.5 million he's set to be paid. In average annual salary, that figure places him 21st among NFL kickers.

Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens and the Philadelphia Eagles' Jake Elliott are the league's highest-paid at the position, averaging $6 million per season, according to Over the Cap.

Eddy Pineiro headshot
Eddy Pineiro
K - CAR - #4
2023 - 2024 season

Pineiro has made 89% of his career kicks, the third-highest rate among kickers with at least 100 attempts in NFL history. (Only Tucker and the Kansas City Chiefs' Harrison Butker have been better.) Last season, the fourth-year pro made 25 of 29 kicks, with a long of 56 yards. That ranked 17th in the league, which is a figure Pineiro might not bring to the negotiating table.

New Panthers head coach Dave Canales was asked about Pineiro's absence and said he hasn't talked to the kicker. Pineiro also did not attend the Panthers' minicamp earlier in the offseason.

"We're just focusing on the guys we have," Canales said. "I'm glad we have Harrison Mevis here so that we can actually go through our field goal/field goal block period. We're just focusing on the guys that are here, and I'm sure Eddy's got a plan for this whole thing."

Canales' mention of Mevis demonstrates the risk Pineiro might be taking by skipping OTAs. The 5-foot-11, 243-pound "Thiccer Kicker" is Missouri's all-time scoring leader with 405 points, converting 78.3% of his kicks and 147 of 148 extra points for the Tigers. He holds the SEC record for longest field goal with the 61-yarder he hit to beat Kansas State last season.

Panthers punter Johnny Hekker, the placeholder for Pineiro's kicks, had no issue with his teammate's absence.

"He’s got a brother that’s heading into his senior year of high school, and he wants to be down there helping him train," Hekker told The Athletic's Joe Person. "Eddy’s training with himself and his dad, training with some other kickers. I trust that he’s being a professional and doing things the right way, so when he shows back up he’ll be ready to roll."