Panthers put tag on center Kalil

The Carolina Panthers continue to be the only NFC South team making news so far Tuesday. Our John Clayton reports the Panthers have placed the franchise tag on center Ryan Kalil.

lastnameKalilThat move should lock Kalil in at a one-year salary of about $10.5 million unless he and the team can work a long-term deal. I wouldn’t read too much into the fact the Panthers put the tag on Kalil, instead of defensive end Charles Johnson or running back DeAngelo Williams. This isn’t necessarily about playing ability. It’s more about protecting who the Panthers want to keep.

The Panthers must feel pretty confident about their ability to re-sign Johnson, who had 11.5 sacks last season. I also expect them to at least make an effort to re-sign Williams when a new labor agreement is finalized. Even if the Panthers don't sign Johnson or Williams, they have some decent alternatives at their position.

But the Panthers avoided some very big danger by putting the tag on Kalil. He’s become a Pro Bowl regular and is just hitting his prime. If he had hit the open market, he could have set a new salary bar for centers. This move gives Carolina more time to work on a deal that will keep Kalil for the long term. Keeping Kalil also means Carolina's offensive line should be a strength. The Panthers don't have a legitimate replacement for Kalil. With him on a line with tackles Jeff Otah and Jordan Gross and guard Travelle Wharton, the Panthers should be set up front.