The New York Jets were in desperate need of a center so they convinced ex-Carolina Panthers Pro Bowler Ryan Kalil to come out of his retirement to play this season with young quarterback Sam Darnold.
The Jets were able to lure any top free agent centers during the offseason. New general manager Joe Douglas came up big time with one of his first huge moves. He signed Kalil to a one-year deal worth $8.4 million.
Jonotthan Harrison is currently #1 on the NY Jets depth chart. Harrison stepped into the starting center role midseason after injuries decimated the Jets O-line. New head coach Adam Gase liked what he saw thus far in training camp from Harrison. However, Harrison is not on the same level as the former All-Pro Kalil.
Douglas somehow enticed a player in retirement to come back and play for a team that went 4-12 last season. Kalil was ready to move onto his next career as a producer and financier in Hollywood.
WHO IS RYAN KALIL?
Hometown: Corona, CA
Size: 6-2, 300 lbs.
Draft: 2007, 2nd Round
Credit USC with the assist. Kalil attended USC which is also where Sam Darnold went to college. The Carolina Panthers drafted Kalil with the 59th overall pick in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft.
Kalil had been a huge fan and supporter of Darnold since his earliest days with the Trojans. Douglas made it a huge selling point that the elder Trojan can help the younger Trojan to become a premier quarterback in the NFL.
According to William Hill, the NY Jets are 66/1 odds to win the Super Bowl.
Back to the Gridiron
Kalil, 34 played for the Carolina Panthers for 12 seasons before retiring in the offseason. He is a five-time Pro Bowler and he started in a Super Bowl while snapping to Cam Newton.
Kalil missed half of the 2017 season with a neck injury before going all out in 2018. He started in 145 out of 148 games with the Panthers. Kalil earned $7.5 million in his final year in Carolina. Joe Douglas gave him a pay jump to return to the trenches.
Kalil thought he was done for good, but he still had a little fire left in his belly. Speaking of bellies, pros tend to let their bodies go when their first retire. It will take several weeks before Kalil can get up to speed.
Kalil is the son of a former NFL player. His father Frank played collegiate ball at Arizona before playing in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills and later with the USFL in the early 1980s.