Terms: Five years, $55.5 million with $25 million guaranteed.
Grade: A -- The Panthers had to sign a left tackle because Michael Oher remains in concussion protocol after missing the final 13 games last season. The draft options also are weak at the position. Kalil (6-foot-7, 317 pounds) has been with the Minnesota Vikings since he was the fourth overall pick of the 2012 draft but wasn’t the most high-profile tackle in free agency. He also is coming off hip surgery that forced him to miss most of last season. But the hip, according to reports, is healed, and Kalil is a solid option at a position of great need. Kalil has started 66 games at left tackle, making the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He has played in an offense built around the running game, which Carolina is committed to in 2017. While he hasn't played to a Pro Bowl level since his rookie year, Kalil is better than any tackle the Panthers have on their roster, so this is an upgrade.
What it means: The Panthers were serious when they said the offseason goal was to give quarterback Cam Newton more protection. It means Oher, should he be cleared from the protocol (and the team is hopeful he will be), can move to right tackle, where he has played much of his NFL career. If not, Daryl Williams is the next option. He graded out as Pro Footbal Focus’ 45th-best tackle at 69.5 last season. This also means the Panthers likely won’t re-sign tackle Mike Remmers, who already is testing the free-agent waters. Not to say Remmers, who moved from right to left tackle when Oher was sidelined, couldn’t return if the money isn’t good elsewhere. He may agree to stay with Carolina for a bargain. But the Panthers clearly are planning to move on from him as the starter, similar to what they did with Byron Bell two years ago, looking to now add depth and competition at the position.
What’s the risk? Not a lot. The hip apparently won’t be a problem. A change of scenery and reunion with brother Ryan could be just what Matt Kalil needs to revitalize his career. And to be honest, there weren’t a lot of other really good options unless the Panthers wanted to sign an aging veteran or someone dealing with health issues. At 27, Kalil should be coming into his prime, and the Panthers will get his best years.