Editors Note: It’s official!
#Panthers will sign left tackle Matt Kalil to a five-year, $55.5 million deal with $25 million guaranteed, source said.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 9, 2017
NFL Free agency officially started this morning, with many of the big name players coming off of the board first thing. The marquee left tackle of this free agency class, Andrew Whitworth, of Cincinnati signed a deal to play for the Los Angeles Rams, and while not many people had Whitworth on the Vikings radar, he was the best left tackle available (Despite being 35 years old). Depending on your thoughts on the subject, the Vikings Matt Kalil could be the second best left tackle available in this class. I personally believe that Russell Okung is the better player, for many reasons (That I outlined in my article titled ‘Why Russell Okung is the Key to the 2017 Season’), even with his injury history (As Kalil also gets injured, he just plays through those injuries to the detriment of the team). According to multiple reports this morning and afternoon, Matt Kalil is going to sign with the Carolina Panthers (barring any last minute snafu’s).
Perhaps due to that pretty crummy left tackle market, Kalil is set to make more money than I’m sure the Vikings were willing to pay the, we can just say it now, bust that he has been for this Vikings organization after being picked fourth overall in the 2012 draft. His career was a strange one, here, considering he came out as a rookie and looked like a Hall of Fame player, only to regress terribly his sophomore season and really never get close to playing the level he did that rookie season. Perhaps the Panthers believe that by reuniting him with his brother, Ryan Kalil (Who is the center for the Panthers) he can regain some of his early career form? Or maybe they’re just desperate to find a replacement for “Blindside” himself, Michael Oher, who still hasn’t been cleared the concussion protocol after suffering the injury late last season.
Either way, this move leaves the Vikings without a suitable left tackle on their roster. Sure, they still have TJ Clemmings, but like I said, they don’t have a suitable left tackle on their roster. The good news is that for whatever reason, the rule is that a player without an agent can’t begin negotiations until three PM on the day that free agency begins. So, hopefully the Vikings have had enough preliminary talks with Okung to feel comfortable enough in letting Kalil go. Like AJ Mansour said in his article this morning, the Vikings do need to come out swinging in free agency “Or else” and if they end up without Kalil, Whitworth or Okung at left tackle by the end of the week, there will be hell to pay from the fans.
Sure, there’s always the draft, some say. But, because the Vikings have terrible luck, the offensive lineman class in this draft is one of the worst it’s been in years. So, leave it to the Vikings to decide to finally start their ‘Draft, Develop and Retain’ plan for their offensive line in the year that they don’t have a first round pick and there aren’t many tackles worth taking outside of the first round. Sigh. So, I’m really hoping that the Vikings will be able to snag Okung, otherwise, it could be a very long year.