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).
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.
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.
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.