With desperate help needed along the offensive line, Jerry Reese and the New York Giants may want to take a gander at OT Matt Kalil.In ESNY‘s fourth installment of the New York Giants Free Agency series, we take a look at Minnesota Vikings tackle Matt Kalil.
Kalil, a product of USC, was drafted fourth overall by the Vikings in the 2012 NFL Draft and has had an up and down career in the NFC North. At first, he was terrific, making the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2012. Kalil was also instrumental in paving the way for Adrian Peterson‘s 2,000-yard campaign with the Vikings.
Since then, Kalil has been mediocre at best – he has not made a Pro-Bowl since, and was hurt for much of 2016 with a hip injury. Now at the end of his five-year rookie deal, Kalil has a decision to make: stay in Minnesota or jump ship and seek greener pastures.
What are the pros to signing Kalil? For one, value.
Spotrac.com values Kalil at around $5.3 million a year, which is more than affordable for the Giants, who cleared up extra cap space recently by releasing WR Victor Cruz and RB Rashad Jennings. Kalil also stands out in a relatively weak crop of free agent tackles, where the 35-year-old Andrew Whitworth is the crown jewel.
Kalil is a pretty safe acquisition, though. While he isn’t going to be an All-Pro, he’s an average offensive tackle, which is still better than what the Giants had to work with in 2016. He might not be good enough for left tackle, but at right tackle, he could be a serviceable pickup who can protect Eli Manning from the right side.
However, Ereck Flowers has to figure into the decision. The Giants may want to move Flowers to right tackle and develop him there, while picking up another left tackle via free agency or the draft. If that’s the case, Kalil should not be signed – spending around $5 million a year for a rotational offensive lineman isn’t worth it.
Additionally, if the Giants keep Flowers on the left and sign Kalil, their tackle situation still, by no means, can be considered a strength. Flowers was a disaster in 2016, and during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, Kalil allowed 99 quarterback pressures, including 55 in 2014-15, which was the second-highest mark in the league.
If the Giants sign Kalil and pair him with Flowers, you’re looking at two Top-10 draft picks on the same line. However, you’re also looking at two Top-10 picks that simply didn’t pan out as expected, and are coming off down seasons and injuries.
The Giants main offseason priority should be to beef up their offensive line, particularly at tackle. While Kalil represents good value at the position – $5 million for a starting tackle could be a bargain – the fact that his value is so low should be a red flag.
Additionally, lining up with Flowers and Kalil at tackle next season cannot be definitively labeled as tangible progress, but rather stagnation.
Should the Giants sign Kalil? No, unless there are few to no other options available.
Kalil’s regression, paired with his recent injury, suggests he is nowhere near his rookie form when he made the Pro Bowl. Fans will celebrate the signing of Kalil because he’s a big name, and a former Top-5 pick, but a Flowers-Kalil tackle lineup would not put the Giants in an ideal position to compete for an NFC East title.