According to the Panthers team website, Matt Kalil is healthy for the first time in a long time after recovering from hip surgery in September 2016. Most importantly, this is great news for Matt Kalil the person. Living in pain while rehabbing from surgery is a difficult, sometimes depressing grind, so hopefully this health issue is now behind him as a human being.
That being said...he does get paid millions of dollars to play football, so here comes the next logical question: Matt Kalil may be healthy, but will he be good?
The contract and the performance
As Panthers fans we got spoiled by Jordan Gross anchoring the left tackle position from 2003 to 2013. Since his retirement the production of his replacements has ranged from “serviceable” to “I think he’s actively trying to get Cam Newton killed.” Carolina needs Matt Kalil’s production to start matching his cap hit.
The Panthers signed Kalil in 2017 to a 5-year, $55.5 million contract, including $31 million guaranteed. In his first year in Carolina his performance was far below his contract. PFF ranked him the No. 55 tackle in the NFL and gave his performance a “poor” grade.
With the amount of money (read: cap space) the Panthers have invested in Matt Kalil, the team simply can’t afford to continue to get below-average production from one of the most important positions in football. Let’s hope a healthier Matt Kalil is an improved Matt Kalil.
Married through 2019
The “improved Matt Kalil” can’t just be a one-year wonder in 2018, either. With the way his contract is structured he needs to be really good through at least the 2019 season when his cap hit jumps to $12.9 million. According to Over the Cap, the Panthers would actually lose cap space (Kalil’s dead money would exceed his cap hit) by releasing him in 2018 or 2019. They would lose $13.7 million in cap space releasing him in 2018 and $1.8 million by releasing him in 2019.
Kalil will most likely be on the roster through 2019 whether he lights the world on fire or not.
But for now, the news coming from Charlotte is positive. Matt Kalil is healthy, which is better than the alternative. Now let’s just hope he’s good.