The Vikings saw immediate gains after drafting Matt Kalil fourth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft but he was never the same during his next four average to below average seasons.
Minnesota let Kalil walk into free agency after the 2017 season and Kalil got a massive contract from the Carolina Panthers. The five-year, $55.5 million deal, including $25 million guaranteed, didn't exactly pay off considering Pro Football Focus rated Kalil as the 60th-best offensive tackle in the NFL, giving him a "poor" grade of just 50.4 points.
Kalil, in an interview with his team's website this week, tried to explain why he was so bad.
"I was struggling in OTAs because I couldn’t really move that well yet," said Kalil, who underwent hip surgery in September 2016, just months before signing with Carolina. “My groin was having issues because of the new mobility. Probably midway in camp is when I started feeling [better].”
In a nutshell, Kalil is telling everyone that he's pain-free for the first time in a very long time: "So now that factor is eliminated and I can actually just play football."
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It may be true what Kalil says, but then again, this is the same guy who last August who blamed his struggles in Minnesota on the offensive line coach, saying his new coach in Carolina was the first to "demand excellence" of him.
BMTN has since learned that being rated 60th among tackles is not excellent.
Kalil was a Pro Bowl left tackle as a rookie in 2012, anchoring the left side of an offensive line that paved the way to Adrian Peterson's 2,000-yard season.
If he gets back to that level it'll help justify the $25 million guaranteed and $55.5 million contract Carolina gave him. It would also give Carolina two really good tackles – their starting right tackle, Daryl Williams, was graded out at 86.4 points by Pro Football Focus, good for fifth-best in the NFL.
If Kalil continues to struggle, however, Carolina will probably wish it had saved all the money spent on Kalil so they could pay Williams when before he reaches free agency in 2019.