Matt Kalil Signs 5-Year Contract with Carolina Panthers

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 11:  Matt Kalil #75 of the Minnesota Vikings at the line of scrimmage during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  The Vikings defeated the Titans 25-16.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Matt Kalil's 2016 season lasted all of two games. He'll hope to have a healthy 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina, after the Carolina Panthers announced they agreed to a five-year deal with the left tackle Friday.

USA Today's Tom Pelissero reported Thursday that the contract is worth $55.5 million. Kalil will reportedly earn $25 million in guaranteed money. On Tuesday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported more details on the deal:

Per a source with knowledge of the deal, the Panthers have to decide between the first and fifth day of the 2018 league year whether to exercise a $10 million option bonus for 2021, with a $10 million non-exercise fee for 2018. The only way to avoid the option bonus or the fee is to cut him or trade him before the deadline for exercising the option.

For now, the deal pays out $13 million for one year, with a $1 million guarantee in 2018 that surely is subject to offset.

"We went through a lengthy evaluation process, including exhaustive film study, and Matt's got everything we're looking for at the left tackle position," general manager Dave Gettleman said in the team's announcement. "Matt's an all-around great player with ability as a run-blocker and pass protector.

"He can play with power and aggressiveness, and he has the toughness and competitiveness we expect from our offensive linemen. He will work with a great duo of offensive line coaches in John Matsko and Ray Brown who I know will maximize his talents. We're just really excited about being able to add him."

The 27-year-old will join his brother, Ryan, on the Panthers. ESPN's Adam Schefter noted the previous instances of brothers featuring on the same offensive line:    

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Kalil brothers in Carolina rare: Jay/Joel Hilgenberg (1993 Saints), Dave/Doug Widell (1990-92 Broncos) are only brother OL to play together.

Ryan Kalil provided his reaction to the signing on Twitter:

Ryan Kalil @ryankalil


CBSSports.com's Will Brinson was surprised to see Matt Kalil receiving such a large contract:

Will Brinson @WillBrinson

Guy negotiating for the Panthers must have been Ryan Kalil.

Will Brinson @WillBrinson

Adding Matt Kalil is a perfectly fine move. Paying him $55 million is like swatting a fly with a blowtorch.

Pre-Snap Reads' Cian Fahey offered a critical assessment of Kalil's value:

The 2012 first-round pick spent his first five seasons in Minnesota. Promising in his first couple of seasons in the league, including a Pro Bowl berth as a rookie, Kalil has struggled in recent seasons to match his early success.

Pro Football Focus ranked him among the NFL's worst offensive tackles in 2014 and below average in 2015, and Kalil got off to another slow start last season. The website graded him as the worst offensive tackle in football in Week 2, his last appearance of 2016. He underwent hip surgery and missed the final 14 games, with the Minnesota Vikings offensive line struggling the entire season.

"It was things with the anatomy of my body," Kalil told reporters. "It was kind of bound to happen, so they fixed that and restructured everything so it won't happen again."

Returning to the Vikings on a short-term deal seemed like a good idea for both parties. Minnesota is short on draft picks after trading for Sam Bradford and is already restructuring a number of big contracts for cap space. Kalil also said he would like to finish his career with the team. 

"I'd love to stay here the rest of my career," Kalil said in November. "This is the team I started out with in the NFL, and I've been playing with these guys. I've met a lot of great friends here, my wife is from here. It'd be a good place to finish my career."

However, the Vikings' decision to decline the Panthers' offer makes sense.

Still, at age 27, Kalil has a lot of gas in the tank. A change of scenery might have been just what he needed to resuscitate his career. 

Giving him $25 million guaranteed, though, is risky, even for a team that ranked 19th in adjusted sack rate in 2016, per Football Outsiders.


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