Just like any other player who missed close to an entire season due to injury, Matt Kalil is now presumably back to being 100% OK. Options for next season? Staying with the Minnesota Vikings, or joining the Carolina Panthers, where is older brother Ryan plays.
The younger Kalil brother, the 4th overall draft pick in 2012, is a solid offensive lineman when healthy, but not too outstanding. He did make the Pro Bowl his rookie year, but the Vikings left tackle had a poor 2014 (allowed more quarterback pressures except for one other player) and was ranked 18th from the bottom by Pro Football Focus in 2015. In 2016, a hip injury kept him out of all but two games. According to his dad, he’s 100% again, but that’s something everyone says, especially when they’re facing free agency.
Kalil would love to stay with the Vikings, but that is based on things he said last fall (I’d love to stay here the rest of my career. 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). Maybe he still feels this way, but both the Vikings and other teams interested in him must be a little bit wary about how productive he can be following a serious injury, with his 28th birthday coming up this summer.
The Vikings offensive line was terrible last season, because of Kalil’s absence and other reasons. They exercised the $11 million, 5th year option on him, only to see him miss almost the entire season. I assume the first team he’ll be talking to are the Vikings, but obviously a lot depends on how much he asks for, with the hip injury taking away a lot of his bargaining power.
The Panthers have had their issues at the edges of the offensive line, last season and even in more successful years. Teaming up with his big brother Ryan, who plays center for the Panthers and quite successfully for many years, would be something of a dream come true. Right now, they’re second choice for the younger Kalil brother, who is counting on his health and ability (some of it at least) from 2012-2015 to do most of the talking as he tries and land a long term contract with the only team he’s played for in the NFL.