The Houston Texans have agreed to terms with veteran offensive tackle Matt Kalil. The team is gambling. Why? Let’s talk about it.
The Houston Texans made a move in free agency today and I’m stunned to actually be writing about it at this moment. In a relatively somber free agency period for the franchise, it’s clearly obvious that the team is going to do most of its damage in the NFL Draft.
That’s perfectly fine but the team shouldn’t put their eggs all in one basket as there are still some nice finds on the second-tier section of the market. My fellow editor/brethren/partner-in-crime, Tyler A. Mock, wrote about this exact notion today so feel free to take a look at some of the guys this team can still snatch up to help their cause of eclipsing greatness.
Any way, according to the Chron’s John McClain, the Houston Texans have signed veteran offensive tackle Matt Kalil to the roster on a one-year deal. He is the only offensive lineman the team has signed in free agency so far. Although the numbers haven’t been released yet, I’d imagine that he’ll be paid around $5 million for this season.
Kalil, 29, was cut by the Carolina Panthers two years into his five-year, $55 million deal that he signed back in 2017, will have to start fresh and prove his worth yet again. An unfortunate knee injury in 2018 afforded him to miss that entire campaign but the fact that he started all 16 games back in 2017 is encouraging news to hear. However, Kalil missed 14 games back in 2016 with a hip injury.
The 6-foot-7, 315-pound offensive lineman molded himself into a household name while starring with the Minnesota Vikings, the team that drafted him 4th overall in the first round out of USC in 2012 Draft.
So how has Kalil done despite playing just one full season over the past three? Let’s take a dive into the numbers.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Kalil had a 62.4 overall, 69.9 pass block and 54.3 run block grade, ranking him 23rd among tackles with at least 892 snaps. He allowed 46 pressures (31 quarterback hurries, eight QB hits and seven sacks) and racked up 10 penalties, the 2nd-highest mark of his career, through 1,100 snaps in 2017.
How does he stack up with the rest of the competition when he’s healthy? Kalil was ranked 40th
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among eligible tackles in pass blocking efficiency with a grade of 95.6. The number doesn’t necessarily scream greatness but it’s impressive considering the Panthers’ offensive line was ranked 18th with a PBE of 84.2. The aforementioned rankings are predicated on a minimum of 340 snaps taken.
It’s hard to criticize this move when there’s relatively low-risk involved. Especially with a guy of his size and superior skill set. But with 35-year-old Donald Penn — who the Houston Texans had interest in — still available and Jermey Parnell remaining unsigned, you have to wonder if money — or age — was the main issue as to why neither of the latter were signed.
Oh well — Kalil is here now and he’ll hopefully be nice insurance, especially on Julién Davenport, who hasn’t quite developed as quickly as we’ve liked. The team may go with a left tackle early in the draft but they’re likely going to draft one that can play both sides and Kalil will help fill out the depth.
Regardless, this is definitely a “wait-and-see” type signing similar to Seantrel Henderson last off season. I just hope those creaky knees can hold up against the relentless defensive ends of the NFL.
Welcome to Houston Matt.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, subscribe to PFF’s EDGE or ELITE subscriptions at ProFootballFocus.com.