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The Vikings Need to Cut Matt Kalil

Following the 2012 NFL season, the Minnesota Vikings were excited for what lied ahead in the future for their left tackle Matt Kalil who had just completed his first season in the league. Kalil looked impressive in his rookie season, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl and helping the Vikings clinch a berth into the playoffs.

However, the bright light that was once Kalil’s future with the Vikings has been continuously dimming since his rookie season came to an end. It still remains puzzling as to why his play has significantly decreased since that very first season he played in Minnesota.

2012 is regarded as Kalil’s best season in his career, but was his “success” in fact a product of facing much weaker competition than he has in the years since? For a player like Kalil, that was drafted as high as he was in 2012 (fourth), to have his rookie season be looked at as his best should mean that his NFL career has been nothing but a disappointment so far.

After every season, Pro Football Focus ranks each player within their specific position group. In 2012, Kalil was ranked in the top quarter of 80 NFL offensive tackles by Pro Football Focus. Since then, his ranking has not been higher than 46th (2015).

Rankings via ProFootballFocus.com
Rankings via ProFootballFocus.com

His ever so decreasing play on the field certainly would not reward him with the second highest salary among NFL left tackles next season, would it? As of today, only Buffalo Bills left tackle Cordy Glenn is scheduled to be making more money than Kalil’s $11.1 million base salary next season.

With that salary, Kalil will be making more than Joe Thomas, Tyron Smith, Terron Armstead, Andrew Whitworth, and Joe Staley among others. These five players can also be known as the top five left tackles of 2015 according to Pro Football Focus.

Kalil is not even half of the player that those five are. His abilities do not even compare to the four other players included in the top five highest paid left tackles for 2016.

*Numbers via Spotrac, The Washington Post, and Pro Football Focus
Numbers via Spotrac, The Washington Post, and Pro Football Focus

If Kalil is not worth paying that much money for, then why should the Vikings pay him that much in 2016? Their money can be better spent elsewhere than to a player that has more than failed to live up to the expectations he was given when Minnesota drafted him.

It is pretty evident that he is incapable of protecting his quarterback given the fact that he has allowed almost 20 sacks and 99 quarterback pressures in the past two seasons. So he must be skilled at run blocking if the Vikings have kept him in the starting lineup for the past four years then right?

Not so much.

In fact when Minnesota ran the ball behind Kalil in 2015, the yards per carry average was lower than it was for any other Vikings lineman. Minnesota even had more success running the ball behind struggling rookie right tackle T.J. Clemmings last season.

Chart via FootballOutsiders.com
Chart via FootballOutsiders.com

Given the facts that Kalil is not very good at either pass blocking or run blocking and he is scheduled to be vastly overpaid in 2016, what shall Minnesota do with their underwhelming left tackle? The answer is actually quite simple.

The Vikings should cut Matt Kalil.

Now, if Minnesota were to decide to do this, it would have to be a decision that would need to be made sooner than later since Kalil’s 2016 salary would be fully guaranteed on March 9th. If they do release him before that date, it will save the team more than $11 million in cap space and they will not owe him a penny.

After Minnesota decides to part ways with Kalil, they would then obviously have to find someone to replace him either through free agency, the draft, or a trade. Their best bet would likely be to bring in a veteran via free agency or a trade rather than draft a rookie replacement given the recent struggles that college offensive lineman have experienced upon entering the NFL.

The Vikings did not envision that they would be wondering what to do with a player only four years into his NFL career and who they spent a top five draft pick on in 2012. But this is reality and not everything is going to work out like the team would had hoped for (just ask Blair Walsh).

Given the current situation Minnesota’s roster is in financially, a move like letting go of Kalil would be best if it were done during this very offseason. The current Vikings roster is comprised of young and cheap talent that is built to win a championship within the next three to four years.

After that time span has passed, Minnesota may not be able to keep some of their core players in town due to the amounts of money that they will be asking for. Should the Vikings possibly sabotage a year of their team’s chance at success by keeping a player around who cannot perform well enough on the field and does not deserve even half the money he is scheduled to make?

Once again, the answer is quite simple. No.

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Adam Patrick

Adam has been rooting for the Vikings ever since he saw Randall Cunningham win NFC Special Teams Player of the week in 1997. Since his career sports highlights include 3rd place at 5th Grade Golf Camp and catching a ball during a soccer game (he was not playing goalie), Adam turned to writing. He considers himself a 'Vikings Realist' as he does not shy away from criticizing the purple and gold if necessary. He will not always write about the popular topics, but his goal is to provide readers with content they cannot find anywhere else. Follow him on Twitter @Str8_Cash_Homey

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30 Comments

  1. I agree. No reason to let him hold back what should be a very good 2016 squad. His ‘improved’ play from 2015 was still unacceptably bad too often, and there’s no telling if he’ll stay at that level or drop back into garbage fire bad next year. LT’s don’t grow on trees, but if you go into next season with him you’re basically giving up anyhow so you might as well see if you can do better. If you can’t, Kalil was going to hold us back anyways so you’re not hurting yourself much. If you can, this team has a chance to be special.

  2. I agree but unfortunately, I don’t think it’s that simple. As bad as he is, he’s our best option next year. There aren’t any surefire draft picks at left tackle that would be available outside of the top 5 picks. Plus, you even said that offensive lineman have struggled to adjust to the NFL in the last few years. I also don’t see any legitimate options on the free agent market. The idea of a trade does intrigue me but I’m not sure that’s a good option either. There aren’t that many established left tackles in the NFL, and even decent ones will cost a lot in a trade. Kalil still has the potential to be a decent left tackle and the Vikings don’t usually spend a lot in free agency. Therefore, they can afford to keep him, even with his price tag

    1. There are a number of FA tackles that would either be better than Kalil or a lot cheaper. or both better and cheaper than $11mil. There’s no reason to stick with him. If we wanted to sign an adequate veteran LT and then draft one to take over next year or the year after we could sign Jermon Bushrod, Will Beatty, Donald Penn, or Jake Long. If we wanted to sign a younger LT where we wouldn’t have to worry about the position for a couple years then we could sign Russel Okung, or Kelvin Beachum. There’s even some speculation that BAL might release Eugene Monroe.

    2. The like/dislike ratio for this post is sort of curious, given that there’s not really any room to dispute anything you had said. The Vikings didn’t have any other legitimate LTs on the roster, there weren’t any feasible upgrades in free agency, they weren’t going to be able to do it via the draft with pick #23 (short of striking gold later in the draft- a chancy proposition at best), and trading for a starting LT would have been incredibly pricey. Sad and depressing as it is, there simply was no other legitimate option for this year other than retaining Kalil and hoping for the best.

  3. Excellent write up. This is what I’ve been saying all offseason and the majority of fans seem fixated on this idea that if we cut Kalil our situation at LT will be worse. It could get worse, but with at least 30 million to play with in FA I don’t think that’s likely. What’s more is that we can’t afford for the LT play to be the same as it has been the last 3 years. This is our window, we can’t afford to waste 11 million in cap on a guy who was mediocre at best and a huge liability during the biggest games of the year (Den, Ariz, GB, Sea).

  4. Kalil had a bad 2014 giving up 13.5 and a half sacks but finished out strong and bounced back with a solid year this year only giving up 5.5 according to Stats.com. Teddy also held on to the ball longer than any other quarter back and did not help his offensive line at times not stepping up in the pocket.. PFF makes no sense to me at all? Tyrone smith gave up 8.5 this year with a much better guard next to him then Kalil had. Even average tackles are hard to come by in the NFL nowadays . Everyone is calling for Matt Kalils head but why would we cut him and either Overpay for another even older average left tackle or risk it in the draft on an unproven rookie. They will most likely restructure Kalils contract with an extension to get his cap # down. Many people point at Arizona as Kalils fault Bridgewater dropped back about 30 times gave up no pressures at all until the last time where he got beat… Peterson does also not run well to his left never has.

    1. You should blame Norv for most of the long developing plays,not Teddy. Teddy held onto the ball too long sometimes, but usually because it was third down and he was trying to make something happen. And Kalil should buy teddy a new car to say thanks for all the times teddy evaded the pressure that kalil let walk right him. Cut Kalil, let him get someone else’s QB killed. I’d be willing to take a chance to just about anybody else.

      1. @ricketycrick everything I stated was a fact. Some of the highest paid tackles gave up more sacks than Kalil and Okung would have given up more sacks if he didn’t have Russell Wilson as his Qb. Numbers don’t lie other left tackles who were paid about the same or even more than Kalil gave up the same amount of sacks …(Look it up @ stats.com)

        Long developing plays? Wrong once again. Do you understand football? The Vikings run a west coast offense that thrives on running the football and quick mid level routes . They rarely threw the football deep because of arm strength of Teddy. I am not saying Teddy is the problem but he did hold the ball much longer than he needed to at times and stood in the pocket for 4 or more seconds most plays and great quarterbacks get rid of the ball by 3 seconds( i.e. Brady, Rodgers) not sure if you watch them but their left tackles are average as well and people are not calling for their heads? . I am sorry but the Vikings rarely called long developing play

        1. That’s rich, asking someone if they know anything about football and then immediately following it with proof that you yourself don’t know anything about football.

          The Vikings do not run a west coast offense. Not since Norv took over. The offense clearly resembles an Air Coryell offense that Norv is known for. Pay Shurmer was brought in specifically to help turn the offense to more west coast-ish.

          In Norv, Norv’s horrific, predictable play calling was reason number one why the Vikings offense struggled.

        2. @T. The Vikings don’t run a west coast offense under Turner. They run Air Coryell where the emphasis is on vertical and deep developing routes.

          1. Of course the difference being is that the air Coryell offense under Coryell actually managed to get decent yards through the air and Fouts did frequently connect on long passes. Teddy can’t hit open receivers that have out ran the defense, albeit it was only a handful of times that Wallace managed to do that.. Nonetheless, hard to think of the Vike’s offense as anything resembling air Coryell with Dan Fouts.

    2. Do you hear yourself? Who else can hold onto the ball and throw it? Who else can play qb except for a qb? Khalil has ta go no exception. MN can find a better LT elsewhere or get the other safety we need so dearly. Let mediocre off. Play it’s game through the D.

    3. T, you’re only addressing half of the problem with Kalil. You’re point is that he’s an average LT, which is more than generous. But that’s your opinion. To most people he’s a below average LT, who on good days seems adequate and average. But I’ll run with your analysis. The problem isn’t keeping an an average LT on the team, it’s paying an average LT the second most money for his position in the entire league. If the team restructure him down to $5-$6 million/year for a couple years (a figure more representative of his value), and then drafts a tackle that can push him and potentially beat him out, then most fans (even those who really dislike Kalil) would acknowledge that that’s a decent approach to the situation. But there is absolutely no sense in paying him $11.1 million this year. You said you wouldn’t want the team to overpay for a veteran LT, if we keep Kalil at this cap number that’s exactly what we’d be doing. And there are a number of adequate LT in FA this year that can play as good as Kalil (probably better) that won’t cost anywhere near $11,1 million.

  5. dude should get paid what he’s worth, and he’s no longer worth the top draft pick money he got. if we got the right deal, i’d be ok with him staying and having to compete for his job. the problem is, with who? LT is a premier position

  6. “For what LIED ahead”? That is terrible grammar. LAY is what you need to use. And the pronoun THAT is not used to refer to people. We use WHO, as in Kalil, who was drafted…
    You need to have someone proof read your stuff Mr. Patrick.

    1. Damn right, Andrew! It’s nice to see that I’m not the only grammar Nazi around VT.

    2. Does anyone really think anymore that Kalil is going to be a Pro Bowl-level LT, or even a solid, no questions asked starter? I sure as hell don’t, so it’s time to move on before his presence and his contract act as a multi-year drag on the team. I’d love to sign Beachum and/or Osemele to fix the left side of the OL for the next half-dozen years or more, but I’d gladly settle for either one.

  7. Cut this guy now! You could sign both Kelechi Osmele and Alex Boone for the price Kalil would be paid. No brainer

    1. You’re dreaming if you think $11.1 million is going to get both Osemele & Boone.
      Osemele is the best OL in free agency,and is going to get paid big dollars.

      1. Word on the street is that Osmele can be had for 9mil/yr, and Boone’s current value according to Sporttrac is roughly 3.5 mil/yr- so 1.5 mil more- but certainly not a daydream. Both of those players have been to the super bowl, are G/T combos, and fairly young. If you want cheaper you could sign: Schwartz , Penn, Jeff Allen, Barksdale, Beachum, Ritchie.

        At the very least you could sign 2 OL that are better than Kalil for the same price. Boone/Osmele is just a combo I believe to be elite and wouldn’t mind paying 1-2mil extra for. Especially if a Mike Wallace cut/reduction is in the works.

  8. Sorry if I find off as a jerk(censored) but this is a dumb article. Let’s cut teddy too because he isn’t a top 10 qb.

    THERE ISN’T A BETTER OPTION. We’re not even close to the salary cap for that to matter, and not enough players want to come to Minnesota for us to need it.

    If you think we should cut Kalil and not Wallace, Sullivan, Fusco, and Loadholt your naive or stupid.

    1. Finally someone talking sense. He’s getting paid too much, but there’s no way I’d rather have Donald Penn playing LT for us.

      1. 11/yr makes Matt Kalil a top 5 paid OT in the league. A guy who let Teddy get sacked 20 times last year and hit numerous other times. Then you have Mike Walkace making 11.5/yr makes him a top 10 paid WR. He was the 4th best WR on one of the league’s worst passing offenses. I’m not saying the other options out there are a huge improvement but the things we could do with 22.5 mil dollars would make us a way better team. You could add 4-5 upgrades at other positions of need. Glad to see u too found each other in this process though, adorable.

        1. You seem slow so I’ll try this.

          There. Is. Not. A. Better. LT. Avaliable. Than. Kalil.

          We. Don’t. Need. Cap. Space.

          Great teams aren’t built through high priced free agents. But hey at least your lack of knowledge was apparent immediately.

          1. Over.half.of.the.league.is.better.than.Kalil.and.cost.half.as.much. Bear with me, sorry because I’m slow, but didn’t the Broncos didn’t just win the Super Bowl?? Hmmmm. They certainly weren’t one of the greatest defenses of all time….and the they certainly didn’t sign any high priced free agents…. Demarcus Ware is a very cheap option, so is Aquib Talib, and let us not forget Peyton Manning. All very frugal-home-grown talents. Oh wait I left out some other FA signings: TJ Ward, Emmanuel Sanders, Owen Daniels…hmmm. You seem like a perfectly nice guy who loves crotch rockets enough to advertise them as your user picture so I’ll be straight with you: When the bums are not living up to their contracts, you don’t give them raises. You cut their salary or you cut their underperforming asses and bring someone in who gets the job done and doesn’t get your franchise QB murdered.

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