Matt Kalil

South Rumors: Texans, Falcons, Saints

The Texans have received positive health news on two offensive players, as both receiver Will Fuller and left tackle Matt Kalil are expected to be ready for the regular season after sustaining injuries in 2018, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (all Twitter links). Fuller averaged a career-high 15.7 yards per reception in seven games before suffering a torn ACL, but he’s now recovering nicely. Kalil, who inked a one-year deal with Houston after being released by Carolina, missed all of last year while dealing with a knee issue, but general manager Brian Gaine says Kalil is expected to compete with Julien Davenport to start on Deshaun Watson‘s blindside.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two South divisions:

  • Alabama State offensive tackle Tytus Howard is a second-round target of the Falcons, tweets Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.net. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com lauds Howard’s size (6’2′”, 322) and ability to “explode out of his stance,” but notes potential concerns about Howard’s level of competition in the FCS. Atlanta owns the 45th pick, so Howard could certainly be available when the Falcons make their second-round selection. Although Atlanta recently extended incumbent right tackle Ty Sambrailo, his new contract is essentially a one-year deal with multiple team options. Howard has also met with the Jets during the pre-draft process.
  • Defensive tackle Tyeler Davison‘s one-year deal with the Falcons will qualify as a minimum salary benefit contract, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Davison will collect an $895K base salary ($110K guaranteed) and a $90K signing bonus, but he’ll only carry the salary cap charge of a second-year veteran plus his signing bonus — a total of $660K. A fifth-round pick in the 2015 draft, Davison started 48 games over the past four seasons in New Orleans, and will now give Atlanta a run-stuffing option alongside fellow defensive tackle Grady Jarrett.
  • Saints cornerback Ken Crawley is planning to sign his original round restricted free agent tender when New Orleans begins its offseason program on Monday, as Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com writes. As of yet, Crawley has not received any interest from any rival clubs, and isn’t expected to until Friday’s deadline for RFAs to sign offer sheets. Crawley is now scheduled to earn $2.025MM for the 2019 campaign, but none of that total is guaranteed, an important distinction given that Crawley isn’t a lock to make the Saints’ roster after finishing as a bottom-three cornerback last season, per Pro Football Focus.

AFC Notes: Colts, Funchess, Mathis, Texans, Mills, Bills, Ravens

The Colts made it very clear they were looking for a number two receiver this offseason. Ever since the season ended with a loss to the Chiefs in the second round of the playoffs, the front office and coaching staff had emphasized the need for a consistent second option behind T.Y. Hilton. The Colts mostly rotated lesser-known role players like Ryan Grant and Chester Rogers as their number two last season, and needed to upgrade. When free agency opened they went out and got their guy, signing Devin Funchess to a one-year deal worth up to $13MM.

Speaking to the media from the owners meetings this week, Colts coach Frank Reich revealed he banged the table for Funchess. When GM Chris Ballard first approached Reich about signing Funchess, Reich said he was immediately all-in, according to Zak Keefer of The Indianapolis Star. “I was like, ‘Please, let’s get this guy.’ That was the guy we really wanted to get,” Reich explained. Funchess was up and down during his time with the Panthers, but has always been high on talent. Funchess will provide the Colts’ receiving corp with the big bodied receiver they were lacking opposite the smaller Hilton, and will be a nice weapon for Andrew Luck in 2019. The Colts are clearly confident in his ability to improve his consistency, and Reich seems genuinely excited about the addition.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Speaking of the Colts, Indianapolis is making a notable change to their coaching staff. Robert Mathis will no longer be a full-time coach, according to Keefer. The Colts’ legend had served as an assistant coach helping out with the team’s pass-rushers the past two seasons. Mathis will now transition into a role as a consultant, giving him more time to develop his private training business. Mathis spent 14 years in the NFL, all with the Colts, and racked up 123 sacks. He’s also the league’s all-time leader in forced fumbles.
  • The Texans recently signed Matt Kalil, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily done adding offensive tackles. The team hosted former Bills tackle Jordan Mills on a visit before signing Kalil, but they’re apparently still interested in adding Mills, according to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle. Wilson writes that Houston has “remained in contact with Mills” and that he’s “still a candidate to potentially join the team.” Offensive line was the team’s main weakness last year, and it looks like they’re trying to add as many pieces as possible. Mills started all 16 games for Buffalo in each of the last three seasons, but graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 70th-best tackle last season.
  • The Bills and Ravens are two teams that could desperately use receiver help, that much isn’t really a secret. Both teams have young quarterbacks in Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson, and they both need to upgrade their receiving corp. They’re both likely to draft a wideout early next month, and they’re each showing interest in one of the top receivers available in the upcoming draft. Buffalo and Baltimore will both meet with Ole Miss receiver D.K. Metcalf ahead of the draft, James Palmer of NFL Network hears (Twitter link). Metcalf blew up the combine with freakish athletic testing, and should go sometime in the first round.

Extra Points: AAF, Texans, Colts, Ravens

Is the Alliance of American Football in trouble? Potentially, as majority league owner Tom Dundon explains to Kevin Allen and Mike Jones of USA Today. “If the [NFL] players union is not going to give us young players, we can’t be a development league,” said Dundon. “We are looking at our options, one of which is discontinuing the league.” The AAF wants the NFLPA to allow active NFL players — especially those on practice squads — to participate in the developmental league. The union, however, is worried that not only would such an arrangement would violate the collective bargaining agreement, but put said players of in danger of being injured in non-NFL-sanctioned action.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Matt Kalil received a $2.25MM signing bonus and a $3.25MM base salary as part of his one-year deal with the Texans, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Currently projected as Houston’ starting left tackle, Kalil can also earn $125K in gameday active roster bonuses, which could add an additional $2MM to his deal. If he’s healthy and active for each of the Texans’ 16 regular season games, Kalil will take home $7.5MM for the 2019 season. Kalil’s health isn’t a sure thing, of course, given that he missed all of last year with a knee injury.
  • Colts owner Jim Irsay attempted to hire Peyton Manning for a front office role, first in 2016 and again in early 2017 after firing general manager Ryan Grigson, and those conversations actually went further than previously indicated. “It did get close with Peyton,” Irsay told Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. “I wouldn’t say super serious close, but enough to kick the tires and say, ‘What are you thinking?’ Because my counsel is there for him whether he comes to the Colts or chooses to do something else. There was definitely some interest on both sides.” Manning has been loosely tied to several front office jobs since retiring after the 2015 season, but he’s thus far resisted every overture.
  • The Ravens are still interested in adding a “shifty, third-down, home-run-type” running back even after signing Mark Ingram, head coach John Harbaugh said this week, per Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Ingram received a three-year deal to leave New Orleans and is the favorite to lead Baltimore in touches, but Gus Edwards, Kenneth Dixon, Tyler Ervin, and De’Lance Turner could also factor into the club’s backfield. The draft could present the Ravens with the opportunity to bring in another back, while free agents who might Harbaugh’s criteria include Ty Montgomery (whom Baltimore traded for last season), Bilal Powell, and Corey Grant.
  • T.J. Weist has been named the Ravens‘ assistant special teams coach, the club announced. Weist, a longtime coach at the collegiate level, originally joined Baltimore as an offensive analyst in 2018.

Texans Sign Matt Kalil

The Texans signed free agent tackle Matt Kalil, according to Mark Berman of FOX 26 (on Twitter). Terms of the deal are not yet known, but it’s likely to be a low-cost contract for Houston. 

The Panthers cut Kalil last week to save roughly $7MM, though they’ll eat $5MM in 2019 and $9MM in 2020 by designating him as a post-June 1 cut. The Panthers, apparently, viewed it as a necessary move after Kalil underperformed in his first year with the club and spent all of 2018 on injured reserve. Even under the best of circumstances, many thought it was unlikely that the veteran would ever live up to his five-year, $55MM deal.

Kalil started all 16 games in 2017 in his first year with the Panthers, but knee troubles cost him all of last year. It was never made clear exactly what the issue with Kalil’s knee was, but he’s apparently healthy enough to play now.

Kalil was a star at USC, and the Vikings took him fourth overall in the 2012 draft. He was a reliable starter his first few years, starting all 16 games in each of his first four seasons. But then Kalil played in just two games in 2016 while dealing with a hip injury, which made the Panthers’ decision to give him the massive deal even more puzzling. The Texans need all the offensive line help they can get, and Kalil is still only 29, so he could prove to be a nice reclamation project in Houston.

 

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Release LT Matt Kalil

Panthers veteran left tackle Matt Kalil has been released, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Panthers will cut him with a post-June 1 designation, saving the club roughly $7MM this year. After that, they’ll eat $5MM in 2019 and $9MM in 2020.

Kalil signed a higher-than-expected five-year, $55MM contract with the Panthers in 2017 and that deal still had guarantees going into 2019. The left tackle leaves Carolina after appearing in just 16 games (all in ’17).

Ultimately, this amounts to a cut-your-losses maneuver. The Panthers have a new owner in David Tepper, and the GM that authorized the Kalil contract, Dave Gettleman, is now with the Giants. Effectively, the club’s new decision makers are willing to chalk up Kalil’s deal – and the associated penalties – to a bad move by the old crowd.

Kalil has spent all of the 2018 season on injured reserve. After being taken out by the right knee injury, Chris Clark took over his spot. Next season, right tackle Taylor Moton could switch sides to man LT.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Eagles, Collins, Gurley, Panthers

Providing an interesting flashback, Nick Foles engineered the Eagles to a big win Sunday night. He is going to be Philadelphia’s starter next week against the Texans, Doug Pederson said Monday. However, unlike last season, Carson Wentz is not headed to IR after what is viewed as a season-ending injury, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The third-year starter is expected to miss the rest of the season because of a back problem, so an IR trip would make sense — unless the Eagles want Wentz around in case he can make a surprise recovery or be an emergency quarterback. Pederson added that the Eagles will not put Wentz in harm’s way. The Eagles remain committed to the former No. 2 overall pick, who is eligible for an extension at season’s end. Foles, though, has started during the team’s biggest wins the past two years and will have another chance to build a unique free agency case. Foles’ contract expires after the season.

The latest from the NFC here, continuing with a key Giants offseason decision:

  • Landon Collins is rehabbing an injury that is expected to impact him well into the offseason. The Giants safety said he risked further damage to his injured shoulder by continuing to play, though he said during an appearance on The Michael Kay Show (via ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan, on Twitter) he would have considered staying on the field if the Giants had beaten the Eagles to stay in a more realistic playoff pursuit at the time. Collins’ contract expires soon, and the Giants are not believed to have engaged in extension talks with him yet. Collins, though, would prefer to stay in New York and is, as of now, expecting to return (Twitter link via Raanan). The franchise tag — expected to be worth approximately $11.2MM for safeties — is likely, Raanan adds.
  • Another high-profile player might not be back with his current employer. Matt Kalil signed a somewhat surprising five-year, $55MM Panthers contract in 2017, and that deal still has guarantees going into 2019. The Panthers would be tagged with $14.7MM in dead-money charges if they released Kalil next year — and such a move would not net Carolina anything in cap savings — but The Athletic’s Joe Person notes (subscription required) the current sense is Kalil will be released. The Panthers have a new owner in David Tepper, and the GM that authorized the Kalil contract, Dave Gettleman, is now with the Giants. So, a cut-your-losses maneuver would add up more compared to if the decision-makers behind the contract were still in place. Kalil has spent all season on IR.
  • Todd Gurley‘s knee injury surely terrified millions of fantasy owners, and it would throw another wrench in a slumping Rams attack. But Sean McVay said Monday (via ESPN.com’s Lindsey Thiry, on Twitter) Gurley is day-to-day with knee inflammation. This does not mean the All-Pro running back is a lock to face the Cardinals on Sunday, but it appears Gurley has dodged a multi-week injury and will be fine for the playoffs at the latest.
  • Greg Olsen underwent foot surgery on Monday, Person tweets. The Panthers’ Pro Bowl tight end said the procedure went well. Olsen is signed through the 2020 season, but the foot trouble that’s plagued him may not make it a lock he returns next year.

Sunday NFL Transactions: NFC South

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC South teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Falcons, Panthers, Saints, and Buccaneers are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s NFC South transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Atlanta Falcons

Practice squad:

Carolina Panthers

Placed on injured reserve:

Signed:

Practice squad:

New Orleans Saints

Signed to practice squad:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Panthers Place Matt Kalil On Injured Reserve

The Panthers have placed left tackle Matt Kalil on injured reserve, the club announced today. Carolina has signed cornerback Lorenzo Doss in a corresponding move.

Kalil recently underwent a knee scope, and the issue is concerning enough that he’ll miss at least the first eight games of the season. However, the Panthers are hopeful Kalil can return later this year. Kalil, 29, has been durable for most of his NFL tenure: while he missed 14 games with a hip injury in 2016, he’s played in all 16 games in every other season of his career.

With Kalil sidelined, Carolina will turn to 2017 second-round pick Taylor Moton to handle left tackle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Rework Luke Kuechly’s Contract

The Panthers have restructured star linebacker Luke Kuechly‘s contract by converting $6.8MM of his salary into a signing bonus, per ESPN’s Field Yates (Twitter link). The move gives Kuechly, who is coming off his fourth First Team All-Pro nod, a nice influx of cash while also creating $5.1MM of cap space for Carolina this year.

Kuechly remains under club control through 2021, and while teams generally do not like to convert salary into signing bonus, as it makes it more difficult to cut ties with a player before his contract expires, it seems unlikely that Carolina will want to move on from Kuechly anytime soon. Although the Boston College product has missed a number of games due to concussions, and although he has had surgery on both of his shoulders — indeed, he has not played a full 16-game season since 2014 — he remains the best inside linebacker in the game.

The 27-year-old will once again anchor the middle of the Panthers’ defense in 2018. Carolina made the playoffs last season and is hoping for a return trip this year, but the team’s offensive line is a major cause for concern at the moment. Indeed, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (via Twitter) that LT Matt Kalil is likely to miss at least the first three games of the regular season, and the Panthers have already placed RT Daryl Williams on injured reserve. Plus, left guard Amini Silatolu is dealing with a torn meniscus.

As such, Carolina could use some of its newfound cap space on an offensive lineman or two, and it could also look to upgrade its backup QB and safety situation. Theoretically, the Panthers could also look into an extension for wide receiver Devin Funchess.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers OT Matt Kalil Undergoes Knee Scope

Panthers left tackle Matt Kalil is week-to-week after undergoing a knee scope, according to David Newton of ESPN.com. Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link) first reported Kalil would seek a second opinion on his knee from renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

Kalil, 29, has been durable for most of his NFL tenure: while he missed 14 games with a hip injury in 2016, he’s played in all 16 games in every other season of his career. His current knee injury been hampering him during training camp, and given his week-to-week diagnosis, it’s unclear if Kalil will be available for the start of the regular season.

Carolina can ill afford to lose any more offensive linemen. After allowing left guard Andrew Norwell to defect in free agency, the Panthers saw right tackle Daryl Williams go down with a torn MCL and dislocated knee cap in July. While Carolina is hoping Williams can return in the second half of the season, that’s far from a guarantee. Meanwhile, veteran Amini Silatolu — who had been winning the battle to replace Norwell at left guard — underwent surgery for a torn meniscus earlier this month.

With three projected offensive line starters sidelined, the Panthers are going to be forced to reshuffle their front five. 2017 second-rounder Taylor Moton was already scheduled to play right tackle in relief of Williams, but he could now be forced to move to the blindside. That would open yet another hole at right tackle, where journeyman Blaine Clausell would presumably step in.

Carolina could conceivably look to the open market for reinforcements, but the list of available tackles is slim. Currently, the top options include Chris Clark, Will Beatty, Bryce Harris, and Chris Hairston, while Menelik Watson will soon join them when he’s released by the Broncos.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.