It was announced on Thursday by NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport that former Panthers Center Ryan Kalil will come out of retirement to sign with the New York Jets on a 1-year, $8.4 million deal.
The Jets quickly confirmed this report on social media:
We've agreed to terms with C Ryan Kalil.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 1, 2019
Kalil had previously retired from the NFL following the 2018-19 season. During his time playing for the Carolina Panthers (2007-2019), Kalil successfully made five Pro Bowl appearances. He was also named a First Team All-Pro twice.
Jets Turning the Tables?
It goes without saying that the Jets were certainly in need of a center. After losing out on free agent Center Mitch Morse to the rival Buffalo Bills, and subsequently Matt Paradis to the Panthers, the Jets were left empty-handed.
New York’s offensive line had shown it’s rough patches over the course of the past few seasons. The 2019 offseason was meant as a major push for change to most importantly, protect second year quarterback Sam Darnold.
It was painful to see the Jets strike out on a number of high-touch centers.
While trading for former Raiders guard Kelechi Osemele was a powerful first move to solidify the line, the Jets still lacked that center-piece, literally. Many thought the Jets were willing to roll the dice and head into the season with Jonotthan Harrison at center, who started eight games at the position in 2018 after moving from guard.
That would have been a risky bet, but something the Jets most certainly would have gone ahead with.
Instead, it seems as though new general manager Joe Douglas has been settling into his new seat quite comfortably. You would have to assume he played a major part in getting a former 5x Pro Bowl Center to un-retire and protect a second year quarterback.
What Does Kalil Bring to the Jets?
As a veteran, Kalil brings a new presence to the Jets’ offense that has been lacking since the loss of Nick Mangold. He brings poise and posture to a team that has seen it’s ups and downs (mostly downs) over the past few seasons.
For example, in 2018, Jonotthan Harrison and Spencer Long combined for 10 offensive penalties while sharing time at the center position. And if you’ve ever watched the Jets play a football game, you would know penalties are one of their biggest and constant flaws.
How does Kalil fix that? Well, to start, he’s only accrued five penalties over the course of the past three season.
Kalil also brings a sense of confident security for Darnold and the backfield. His blocking and protection abilities were at the top of the league not too long ago. He managed to cover Cam Newton, a mobile quarterback, in difficult situations. You’d have to expect the Jets to see that same type of potential between him and Darnold.
Here’s what I mean:
Lastly, as I hinted at before, Kalil now opens up the potential for Le’Veon Bell even further. With a solidified center, the Jets offensive line now looks competent. This is how Bell thrived in Pittsburgh.
Taking that extra second, finding the hole, and maneuvering through it with quickness was one of the things that made Bell a top NFL running back. He can thank the Steeler’s offensive line for providing him with all of that time to possess that ability.
The Jets now have the pieces to do the same.