Ex-Ticats kicker from St. Catharines earns new NFL gig


Published December 21, 2021 at 5:35 pm

Lirim Hajrullahu is a Cat again, albeit in Carolina.

The 31-year-old kicker from St. Catharines, who has been with several NFL teams since moving on from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in early 2020, was picked up by the NFL’s Panthers on Tuesday, according to multiple reports. Hajrullahu had been on the Washington Football Team’s practice roster after a one-game NFL debut stint last month with the Dallas Cowboys.

There are three weeks left in the NFL season. Carolina (5-9 this season) played without a kicker during a 31-14 defeat against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday after Zane Gonzalez was injured during the pregame warmups. Wide receiver Brandon Zylstra, also a former CFLer, handled kickoffs and the Panthers tried two-point conversions after both of their touchdowns.

Hajrullahu was an East Division all-star with the Tiger-Cats in 2019, which was his second season in Hamilton and sixth in the CFL. That season, he was the CFL’s third-leading scorer with 162 points, and led the league in field goals after making 47-of-55 three-point attempts. He also played two seasons apiece with Winnipeg and Toronto, kicking a last-minute Grey Cup-winning field goal in the Argonauts’ championship-game upset against the Calgary Stampeders in 2017.

In 2020, the Governor Simcoe alumnus came close to winning the job with the Los Angeles Rams before being released. Carolina also had him in for a tryout late in the season, but a visa issue prevented him from signing a contract.

Hajrullahu also played for the Generals of The Spring League, a made-for-TV developmental circuit, during its fall 2020 and spring 2021 seasons.

Carolina’s three remaining games are all in the NFL’s 1 p.m. Sunday window. The Panthers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Dec. 26, then visit the New Orleans Saints on Jan. 2 and have a return game against Tampa Bay on Jan. 9.

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