While everyone discusses Carolina’s need for receivers or additions to the secondary, centers aren’t usually at the forefront of the conversation unless you like big butts. But you other brothers can’t deny that it may be time--to get sprung.
Ryan Kalil’s importance to Carolina’s offensive success was apparent this season, and so was his absence. Kalil, who turns 33 next month, missed 10 games with a neck injury. Although he never looked to full form upon his return, Kalil made the line better when he was there. Kalil takes up more than just space on the football field. He’s slated to make $10 million in 2018, a significant chunk for an aging player whose risk for injury only increases as he gets deeper into his career. Releasing Kalil would free 7.5 million increase Carolina’s current cap space by 33%.
The Panthers are going to have to move on from Kalil, whether it is this year or next. The money would surely give Carolina some flexibility, but it’s hard to think it would be worth it without a clear plan moving forward. While Kalil’s backup, Tyler Larsen played pretty well in the veteran’s absence, we didn’t see enough to believe he could the team’s next starter. Carolina would have to look into free agency or the draft. If it is the draft, they may still need to venture into free agency or simply cough up the cash to keep Kalil around for his final contractual season.
Trying to replace Kalil with a cheaper option without seeing a significant drop off in play won’t be easy. Kalil’s chemistry with Cam alone is worth a truckload of cash. It’s really a difficult exercise. Free agents like Weston Richburg or Travis Swanson both struggled with head injuries this year and John Sullivan wouldn’t make for anything but an upgrade in age.
Carolina would probably be best off keeping Kalil and prioritizing a center in the draft. It wouldn’t make for the most exciting of draft picks but it could just what Carolina needs. Adding a Billy Price, Isaiah Wynn, or Bradley Bozeman to study behind Kalil for a year would make a lot of sense. If Kalil were to get injured, the rookie would just have to be trained on the field.
When and how do you think Carolina should look towards life beyond Kalil?
By Tony Dunn
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