Matt Kalil

Panthers Sign Matt Kalil

Former Minnesota offensive tackle Matt Kalil has signed with the Panthers, per a club announcement. The deal was first reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Now, Matt will play on the same offensive line as his brother, Ryan Kalil.

Matt Kalil (vertical)

It’s a five-year, $55.5MM deal for Kalil, who will receive $24MM guaranteed, Joseph Person of The Charlotte Observer writes. However, that doesn’t quite tell the whole story. The deal is effectively a one-year pact with an option for more, based on what one source tells Mike Florio of PFT.

The Panthers have to decide between the first and fifth day of the 2018 league year whether to exercise a $10MM option bonus for 2021, with a $10MM non-exercise fee for 2018. The Panthers can avoid escape the option bonus by releasing or trading him prior to that deadline. Ultimately, this all measures out to a one-year, $13MM deal with a $1MM guarantee for 2018. Cutting ties with Kalil after one year would be costly, but it wouldn’t be out of the question if he underperforms.

The Vikings took Kalil No. 4 overall in 2012 draft and watched him enjoy a stellar rookie campaign. However, he’s been unable to replicate that success. Last year, he appeared in just two games due to injury. Hopefully, he’ll be able to turn in a 16-game season this year, like he did from 2012-2015.

There was mutual interest in a reunion between the Vikings and the 27-year-old (28 this summer), but Kalil was likely drawn to Carolina by the chance to play with his brother. Now, he’ll go to the Panthers and fill one of the team’s major offseason needs. Michael Oher was slated to be the team’s left tackle for 2017, but concussion issues have put his status in question.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Matt Kalil Likely To Sign With Vikings Or Panthers

Free agent left tackle Matt Kalil is expected to sign with either the Vikings or the Panthers, according to Peter Schrager of FOX Sports (Twitter link), who adds that clubs are waiting for the first left tackle “domino” to fall.Matt Kalil (vertical)

A reunion with the Vikings would see Kalil staying with the only club he’s ever played for during his five-year career. Minnesota selected Kalil fourth overall in the 2012 draft, and witnessed him excel during his rookie campaign. It’s been all downhill since, however, as Kalil has struggled to live up to his first-year production. In 2016, Kalil managed less than 200 snaps before going down with injury.

Kalil, 27, has indicated a preference to stay with the Vikings, and general manager Rick Spielman has also expressed his desire to re-sign the sixth-year pro. “We have a plan in place on everything,” Spielman said last month. “But I also know I have a pretty good history of trying to keep our own guys as well.” Minnesota’s offensive line was perhaps the league’s worst last year, so while Kalil isn’t an elite option, he’s preferable to what the Vikings deployed at left tackle in 2016.

The Panthers’ interest in Kalil has been reported before, as Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer linked Kalil to Carolina earlier this week. As of early this month, incumbent Panthers left tackle Michael Oher is still in the concussion protocol — even if he’s healthy, Oher could shift to the right side if Kalil is signed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents

It’s free agency week! This year, thanks to the salary cap increase, the dollars will be flying and players will make more than you ever could have expected. Our lists for offense and defense rank free agents based on overall ability, but our Top 50 ranks players based on earning power. Here, you’ll get a good sense of what the market will be like this week and who the big fish are.

The league’s “legal tampering” window will open on Tuesday at 11:00am CT. Technically, teams and players aren’t permitted to finalize agreements on contracts during that legal tampering window, but that’s often treated as a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. We will almost certainly see handshake agreements go down on Tuesday and Wednesday before they become official on Thursday, the technical beginning of free agency.

Our list of 2017’s top 50 free agents doesn’t include restricted free agents, or franchise tagged players, since they’re effectively restricted free agents as well.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive right in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2017, along with a few predictions on how much they might earn and what teams could be in the mix to sign them:

1. A.J. Bouye, CB (Texans): Bouye is an overnight sensation, going from unknown to elite talent in the blink of an eye. No one knows exactly what to make of Bouye, but his upside is too much for teams to pass up. The Texans declined to use the franchise tag on the 25-year-old (26 in August), but they’re still hoping to get a deal done this week. The Jets are said to have interest, but it’s not clear if they’ll have the room to get something done. Cornerback-needy teams like the Panthers, Saints, Jaguars, Titans, Bears, and Eagles can be expected to at least kick the tires on this year’s top player in the secondary. Could something like Janoris Jenkins‘ five year, $62.5MM contract ($28.8MM fully guaranteed) from last year be within reach? Jenkins had a longer history of success than Bouye, but consider these facts: Bouye nearly two years younger than Jenkins was at time of signing and the salary cap has risen by about $12MM.
Signed with Jaguars for five years, $67.5MM.A.J. Bouye (vertical)

2. Alshon Jeffery, WR (Bears): He was hurt for most of 2015 and he slumped along with the entire Bears offense in 2016, but his natural ability is still evident and he is a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver. At one point, it seemed like Jeffery could wind up as the league’s highest-paid wide receiver. That won’t be the case, but he will likely get more cash than any other wide receiver in this year’s class. The Eagles and Titans have been hot on his tail for some time now. The 49ers could also get involved and a return to the Bears cannot be ruled out either. Ultimately, Jeffery should wind up fetching at least $10MM per year and perhaps as much as $12MM per year on his next deal.
Signed with Eagles for one year, $9.5MM.

3. Kenny Stills, WR (Dolphins): Jeffery isn’t the only wide receiver who could fetch $12MM per year. Stills isn’t necessarily the best wide receiver on his own team, but he is just on the cusp of his 25th birthday and his ability to stretch the field is tantalizing. It doesn’t sound like the Dolphins are ready to be the highest bidder for his services and it’s not hard to imagine a team like the Eagles landing him. Naturally, there’s quite a bit of overlap between the potential suitors for Jeffery and Stills: the Eagles, Titans, Bears, and 49ers will probably come calling. The Rams may not have enough room to squeeze in Stills, but they could certainly use a playmaker like him if they do not re-sign Kenny Britt. Stills reportedly likes the West Coast (who doesn’t?) so the Niners and Rams could have a leg up on the others if the bidding is close.
Re-signed with Dolphins for four years, $32MM.

4. Dont’a Hightower, LB (Patriots): The market is capped for non-rush linebackers, but Hightower is pretty much the best at what he does and is also lauded for his intangibles. The Patriots have always embraced the “next man up” philosophy, so it is possible they will allow him to go elsewhere. The Dolphins have been frequently connected to Hightower, but that might be too ambitious for a team that has multiple major needs to address. The Colts might also make sense, but the price might be too rich for their blood. A Patriots return appears to be the most likely outcome, but anything is possible.
Re-signed with Patriots for four years, $35.5MM. 

5. Kevin Zeitler, G (Bengals): Zeitler has age on his side and he’s one of the safest free agents in the top ten after three consecutive years of dominance. Interior offensive linemen don’t get as much love as their counterparts on the outside, but they are still incredibly vital and Zeitler’s next contract will reflect that. If he doesn’t circle back to the Bengals, the Jaguars, Cardinals, Packers, and Seahawks all make varying degrees of sense for Zeitler. From a football standpoint, you can add the Jets to that group too, but I’m not sure they can meet a ~$12MM/year asking price.
Signed with Browns for five years, $60MM.

6. Logan Ryan, CB (Patriots): There are bigger names available at the cornerback position, but Ryan slots ahead of many of them after a career year. It also doesn’t hurt that this fresh-faced Super Bowl champ only just turned 26 in February. If the Patriots don’t tie him down, Ryan’s earning power could conceivably vault him past Trumaine Johnson in terms of guaranteed cash. The Jaguars and Titans would be wise to zero in on Ryan if they can’t land Bouye and it’s possible that some of their evaluators might even prefer Ryan over the Houston standout. Ryan’s next deal will probably pay him eight figures per year and it should be a lengthy pact.
Signed with Titans for three years, $30MM.

7. Terrelle Pryor, WR (Browns): There is strong mutual interest in a new deal between Pryor and the Browns. Still, the Browns passed on the opportunity to franchise tag the Ohio State product and he now appears poised to test the open market. With pretty much just one year to show, how will Pryor fare in free agency? His next deal should pay him at least $10MM/year and he could get up to $12MM/year. In addition to the Browns, the usual suspects for this year’s high-end WRs will explore signing Pryor (say it with me): Eagles, Titans, and 49ers. There’s conflicting word about whether the Steelers will get involved. The Giants are known to have interest, but I don’t think they’ll be splurging on free agents like they did one year ago.
Signed with Redskins for one year, $6MM.

8 .Ricky Wagner, OT (Ravens): There’s already talk of Wagner fetching around $10MM/year and it’s not like this year’s free agent market is flush with young, quality tackles. When you also consider the lack of quality tackles in the draft, it’s apparent that Wagner is about to get PAID, in all caps.Believe it or not, $10MM/year might be his floor. When all is said and done, he’ll be the league’s biggest earner at right tackle. The Bears are particularly interested in Wagner, so he could go from the AFC North to the NFC North this week.
Signed with Lions for five years, $47.5MM.

Calais Campbell (vertical)9. Calais Campbell, DL (Cardinals): Campbell was supposed to be an afterthought in Arizona after the addition of Chandler Jones. Perhaps motivated by a perceived slight, Campbell turned in a stellar year. Now, the Cardinals would very much like to keep him, but they can only go so far as they back up the Brinks truck for Jones and look into retaining other key free agents. If Jones does not agree to a cap-smoothing long-term deal between now and March 9th, the odds of Campbell leaving increase. The Jaguars are said to be a leading contender for Campbell while the Titans, Broncos, Colts, and Bears could also use a force like him. His age (31 in September) gives him a bit of a ceiling in terms of overall compensation, but he should still do nicely this month.
Signed with Jaguars for four years, $60MM.

10. Stephon Gilmore, CB (Bills): In terms of pure talent, Gilmore might be the best cornerback available. Trouble is, no one knows what to make of him after a down 2016. Some have openly theorized that Gilmore was playing it safe to avoid injury in his pivotal contract year. It’s also possible that Buffalo’s injuries in the front seven put undue stress on the secondary. The Bears are reportedly high on Gilmore and he may represent a cheaper option than Bouye or Ryan. A Bills return would also make sense here.
Signed with Patriots for five years, $65MM.

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Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Offense

NFL free agency is right around the corner! The legal tampering period starts on Tuesday and free agency officially starts on Thursday. The list of available free agents will change between now and then as players re-sign with teams or get cut loose, but we have a pretty good idea of who will be available right now. After looking at the top defensive players, we now shift our attention to the other side of the ball.

Here are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each position. The rankings aren’t determined by earning power, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with a combination of short- and long-term value taken into account. You won’t find restricted free agents or franchise tagged guys here since they are unlikely to go leave their current clubs.

Player evaluation is always subjective, so we encourage you to make your voices heard in the comments section in cases where you disagree with us.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Updated 3-7-2017, 2:55pm CT

Quarterback:

  1. Mike Glennon
  2. Nick Foles
  3. Brian Hoyer (story)
  4. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  5. Colin Kaepernick
  6. Josh McCown
  7. Case Keenum
  8. Matt McGloin
  9. Mark Sanchez
  10. Ryan Mallett
  11. Christian Ponder
  12. Blaine Gabbert
  13. Geno Smith
  14. Matt Schaub (story)
  15. EJ Manuel

Honorable mention: Ryan Nassib, Landry JonesShaun Hill Mike Glennon (vertical)

Colin Kaepernick’s agents have (wisely) let everyone know that their client will stand for the National Anthem in 2017. That may seem like a minor point, but teams say they would have automatically removed him from consideration if he continued his attention-grabbing protest. He grabbed headlines for his actions on the sidelines last year, but he actually turned in an OK season. From a football standpoint, Kaepernick would make sense for a lot of teams as a QB2 with upside.

Interestingly, this list includes three quarterbacks who couldn’t cut it as the Jets’ starter and three rejects from the 49ers. They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all six of those players (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kaepernick, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert) come with varying degrees of potential and proven effectiveness. Smith, somehow, could reportedly be retained by the Jets and installed as the starter in 2017.

Ryan Nassib is just outside of the top 15 here with EJ Manuel getting the final spot. Despite positive word about his play in practice, Nassib is unproven and the Giants’ apparent lack of interest in re-signing him says a lot. It’s also possible that he might not be 100% after ending the 2016 season on IR with an elbow injury. Manuel, for all his warts, has shown potential in small bursts.

Running back:

  1. Eddie Lacy
  2. Adrian Peterson
  3. LeGarrette Blount
  4. Latavius Murray
  5. Jamaal Charles
  6. Darren McFadden
  7. Jacquizz Rodgers
  8. Rex Burkhead
  9. Rashad Jennings
  10. Danny Woodhead
  11. Tim Hightower
  12. DeAngelo Williams
  13. Andre Ellington
  14. Chris Johnson
  15. Christine Michael

Honorable mention: Robert Turbin, Travaris Cadet, Benny Cunningham, Lance Dunbar, Bobby Rainey, Brandon BoldenDenard Robinson, James Starks

Adrian Peterson (vertical)As expected, the Vikings have cut Adrian Peterson loose and he is expected to garner interest from contending clubs this week. Some might peg Peterson as the most talented running back in this year’s free agent class, but it all comes down to how you weigh his age and injury history. Peterson has shocked the football world in the past with an incredible comeback, but I’m a little skeptical of his ability to do it again in his age-32 season. Eddie Lacy, who has injury question marks of his own, takes the top spot at the position.

The Patriots believe they won’t be able to match the offers that come in LeGarrette Blount‘s direction. Latavius Murray could circle back to the Raiders, but he won’t be agreeing to a deal with them before free agency opens on Thursday.

Jamaal Charles has the most impressive resume of anyone on this list, with the exception of Peterson. However, no one knows exactly what he can do after playing eight games in the last two years. He’ll turn 31 in December and that’s usually not an indicator of success for running backs.

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Panthers Interested In Matt Kalil?

The Panthers could be fixing to have both Kalil Bros. on the roster in 2017. The Panthers are expected to have interest in Matt Kalil, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Matt Kalil (vertical)

Kalil, 28 in July, played in only two games last year thanks to September hip surgery. Teams will be wary of his medical status, but his father tells Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press that he is now 100% healthy. For his part, the younger Kalil has said that he would like to stay in Minnesota:

I’d love to stay here the rest of my career,” Kalil said last fall. “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.”

Even if he’s healthy, the reality is that Kalil comes with tons of question marks. Kalil hasn’t been overly effective blocker since earning a Pro Bowl nod as a rookie. Kalil allowed the second-most pressures among tackles in 2014 and finished 18th from the bottom in 2015, according to Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

[UPDATE: CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST EDITION OF THE TOP 2017 NFL FREE AGENTS BY POSITION]

NFL free agency will get underway on Thursday, March 9th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account. Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Mike Glennon
  3. Nick Foles
  4. Brian Hoyer
  5. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  6. Case Keenum
  7. Matt McGloin
  8. Mark Sanchez
  9. Geno Smith
  10. Ryan Mallett
  11. Josh McCown
  12. Christian Ponder
  13. Blaine Gabbert
  14. Matt Schaub
  15. Ryan Nassib

Honorable mention: Shaun Hill

As of this writing, Kirk Cousins is far and away the best potential free agent quarterback in this year’s crop. By the time March gets here, we’re fully expecting Cousins to be spoken for. Ultimately, the Redskins could franchise tag him, work out a long-term deal with him, or swing some type of trade that nets them a massive haul of talent and picks. That will leave a crop of retread quarterbacks that would probably best serve as transitional options for QB-needy teams. Kirk Cousins

Mike Glennon hasn’t done much in his 18 career starts, but talent evaluators are still in love with his size and potential. The 6’7″ quarterback will get more money this spring than you might expect, particularly since there are no surefire QBs in this year’s draft.

Teams looking for stopgap QBs will find a plethora of experienced, though perhaps uninspiring, signal callers. Nick Foles, Brian Hoyer, and Ryan Fitzpatrick all have their best football behind them, but they could hold down the fort for a team in 2017 and maybe even find some success if the defense is strong enough. Of course, the ideal role for those guys would probably be as a backup to a better, younger quarterback.

Running back:

  1. Le’Veon Bell
  2. Eddie Lacy
  3. LeGarrette Blount
  4. Latavius Murray
  5. Darren McFadden
  6. Jacquizz Rodgers
  7. Rashad Jennings
  8. Danny Woodhead
  9. Rex Burkhead
  10. Tim Hightower
  11. DeAngelo Williams
  12. Andre Ellington
  13. Chris Johnson
  14. Christine Michael
  15. Robert Turbin

Consider Le’Veon Bell‘s name written in Etch-A-Sketch, because he is very unlikely to get near the open market. That could leave Eddie Lacy as the best tailback available in March. Lacy has struggled with weight issues in recent years and he lost much of the 2016 season to injury. Still, he is a bruising back that could nicely complement a quicker ball carrier. Before he was shut down for the year, Lacy was averaging 5.07 yards per carry in five games for Green Bay.

LeGarrette Blount (vertical)In the last two years, LeGarrette Blount seems to have put his off-the-field troubles behind him. Whether that’s a sign of his maturity or a product of the Patriots’ culture remains to be seen. Teams can ignore his past indiscretions, but they will be wary of his age. Blount turns 31 in December.

Latavius Murray has shown glimpses of being a special running back, but he has been inconsistent and his 4.0 yards-per-carry average of the last two years isn’t overly impressive. Darren McFadden ran for more than 1,000 yards in 2015, but 2016 was pretty much a lost year for him. Jacquizz Rodgers seemed to break out last year, but he wound up succumbing to the same injury bug that took down a host of other Buccaneers running backs. Speaking of injuries, Rashad Jennings was initially brought to the Giants to be a workhorse back, but two of his three years in New York were marred by ailments. Everyone in this tier has the potential to make a difference, but none should be counted on as anyone’s main guy in 2017.

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Vikes Notes: AP, QBs, Kalil, Floyd, Greenway

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has a $6MM roster bonus due March 11, two days after the market opens, but general manager Rick Spielman told reporters Thursday that the rusher’s future “will get addressed here before free agency starts” (via Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune). Spielman hasn’t yet spoken to Peterson or his representative, but it’s fair to suggest that the Vikings likely won’t exercise the seven-time Pro Bowler’s option. Even if they don’t, though, Spielman indicated he’s amenable to bringing back the soon-to-be 32-year-old Peterson at a lesser cost in 2017. “If we don’t exercise that option, we always will keep the door open on all of our players,” Spielman said.

Regardless of whether Peterson returns next season as Minnesota’s No. 1 back, it has “got to run the football better,” head coach Mike Zimmer told Lindsey Young of the team’s website. The Vikings finished dead last in rushing (1,205) and yards per carry (3.2) last season, and barely having Peterson available didn’t help. While Peterson posted a microscopic 1.9 YPC, he did it over just 37 carries, having missed most of the year because of a torn meniscus.

More from Spielman:

  • Sam Bradford will start under center next season for the Vikings, but the quarterback position is “in flux” beyond that, according to Spielman. The Vikings have another starting-caliber signal-caller, Teddy Bridgewater, though he missed the 2016 campaign and might not play next season on account of the devastating knee injury he suffered last August. Spielman responded to that by trading the club’s first-round pick in this year’s draft (and a fourth in 2018) to the Eagles for Bradford, and the executive maintains that he “would do that over in a millisecond to get Sam Bradford on our football team with the circumstances we were dealing with.” Bradford is “just right now in the prime of his career,” Spielman opined, and is due to hit free agency next winter. Although the Vikings only went 7-8 with Bradford (8-8 overall), the 29-year-old fared respectably atop an ultra-conversative passing offense, having set the single-season completion percentage record (71.6) and posted 20 touchdowns against five interceptions.
  • Like Bradford, Bridgewater could also become a free agent next offseason if the Vikings don’t control him via his fifth-year option, which they’ll have to exercise or decline by May. In updating Bridgewater’s recovery, Spielman said: “He’s in the process of working through his motion. I know he’s doing specific things in rehab to get him back to being functional. When he’s going to be ready for football, dropping back and things like that — I think that’s still to be determined.”
  • Elsewhere on offense, the Vikings could lose longtime No. 1 left tackle Matt Kalil to free agency. Spielman, though, seemed to imply interest in re-signing the 27-year-old. “We have a plan in place on everything,” he stated. “But I also know I have a pretty good history of trying to keep our own guys as well.” Kalil missed all but two games last year because of a hip injury, and he hasn’t lived up to expectations since going fourth overall in the 2012 draft. However, he racked up 16 starts in each of his four seasons prior to 2016 and now stands as one of the most accomplished pending free agent tackles in a weak class.
  • Defensively, Spielman noted that tackle Sharrif Floyd, a potential cap casualty, is “under contract.” Like Peterson and Kalil, Floyd barely took the field last season (one appearance). But “he’s a pretty good player” when healthy, offered Spielman, who added that the team’s defense missed Floyd last season. Floyd sounds safe based on those comments, then, but Spielman could cut him by March 9 and get out of the 25-year-old’s entire $6.75MM-plus cap hit for 2017. As with Floyd, linebacker Chad Greenway‘s fate for next season will become known by the first day of the league year. Greenway, 34, will decide by then whether to retire. The pending free agent revealed last month that he’d only continue his career as a Viking, with whom he has spent all 10 of his seasons.

Matt Kalil Hopes To Stay With Vikings

Matt Kalil‘s season ended in September when a hip injury shut him down for the season. The pending free agent didn’t get a chance to show the Vikings what he could do in his contract year, but he still hopes to remain in Minnesota, as Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press writes. Matt Kalil (vertical)

[RELATED: Vikings OT Jake Long Done For Season]

I’d love to stay here the rest of my career,” Kalil said. “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.”

To re-sign with the Vikings, Kalil will probably have to agree to a pay cut. This year, he is earning $11.096MM for what amounted to a two-game season and it’s hard to see the team agreeing to that kind of guaranteed cash again. A one-year deal with a moderate base and incentives could make sense for the Vikings, but Kalil seemed to bristle at the suggestion that his health could impact his leverage.

I don’t think so,” Kalil said. “I will have a full recovery. That’s what happens. People get hurt in football.”

Under the new IR rules, Kalil could technically return this season, but he says that is not a realistic possibility as he is still healing from his surgery. Kalil’s hip won’t heal until around Christmas and even then, he’ll be a long way from being in football shape.

The Vikings’ offensive line has been ravaged by injuries this season. Over the weekend, tackle Jake Long suffered a season-ending Achilles injury, forcing the team to start T.J. Clemmings at one tackle spot with Jeremiah Sirles at the other. Clemmings has been among the worst blockers in the NFL this year. And, despite a decent start to the year, Sirles has struggled in recent weeks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Notes: Cutler, Kalil, Lions

After Monday night’s ugly loss to Philadelphia, Rich Campbell of The Chicago Tribune writes that the end of Jay Cutler‘s tenure with the Bears felt as real as it ever has. Each year since former head coach Lovie Smith was fired at the end of the 2012 season, the Bears have asked themselves whether they prefer Cutler to an alternative, and each year, the answer has been yes.

However, after looking at the success that rookie Carson Wentz had against them last week, and as they prepare for rookie signal-caller Dak Prescott this week, the Bears’ quarterback calculus could change sooner rather than later. After all, it could be tough for GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox to continue with a 33-year-old quarterback who has a 50-49 record and only one playoff victory in seven-plus seasons in Chicago, particularly a quarterback they inherited who has no more guaranteed money left on his deal as of 2017.

The problem is that a quarterback has not been the best player on the board when the Bears have been on the clock in the past two seasons, and it would not have made sense for the team to reach for a signal-caller when they had a solid quarterback on the roster with guaranteed money still to be paid. But with no succession plan in place, the Bears may have no choice but to grab a QB in the 2017 draft and hope they can find someone to lift them out of their cycle of mediocrity.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the NFC North:

  • With Matt Kalil on IR, many have wondered if the Vikings–who demonstrated they were “all in” on the 2016 season with the Sam Bradford trade–could deal for a replacement left tackle, like Cleveland’s Joe Thomas. However, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Minnesota will not make such a trade.
  • Earlier today, we learned there is a good chance that Adrian Peterson could return to the Vikings next year, despite much speculation to the contrary.
  • Lions DE Ziggy Ansah is expected to be out through at least next week as he continues to battle a high ankle sprain, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Ansah will get a second opinion on that injury later this week.
  • Lions LG Laken Tomlinson has had a very disappointing start to the season, but Kyle Meinke of MLive.com believes Detroit has no other choice but to continue relying on last year’s No. 28 overall selection, as 2016 fifth-rounder Joe Dahl does not appear ready to step into the starting lineup.

Season Over For Matt Kalil?

The Vikings announced that left tackle Matt Kalil underwent successful surgery Friday to repair a labrum tear in his right hip. Head coach Mike Zimmer said Kalil, whom the Vikings placed on injured reserve Wednesday, could return after missing the requisite eight weeks, though Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press notes that running back Adrian Peterson‘s situation complicates matters (Twitter links).

Matt Kalil

Peterson underwent surgery on a meniscus tear Thursday, and if the Vikings put him on IR, only one of him or Kalil would be eligible to come back this year. Minnesota could avoid having to choose between them, however, as Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports that Kalil’s season is over. He’s facing a six-month recovery, sources told Pelissero (Twitter link).

If Kalil’s season is done, it’s possible the soon-to-be free agent has played his last snap as a Viking. Since going fourth overall in the 2012 draft, Kalil has started in all 66 regular-season appearances, making this the first year he won’t achieve a perfect attendance record. Despite his durability, Kalil hasn’t been an overly effective blocker since earning a Pro Bowl trip as a rookie. The ex-USC standout allowed the second-most pressures among tackles in 2014 and finished 18th from the bottom last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Regardless of whether Kalil returns this year, Minnesota will at least have to play a large portion of it without him. The club is now primed to turn to T.J. Clemmings at left tackle. As a rookie last season, Clemmings started 16 games at right tackle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.