Matt Kalil (Tim Yotter/Viking Update)
Left tackle Matt Kalil signed his contract with the Vikings on time to make the first training camp practice on Friday. Players reported to Minnesota State, Mankato on Thursday and Kalil talked about his upcoming battles with Jared Allen and more.
It came down to the training camp wire, but the Vikings have agreed to contract terms with first-round pick Matt Kalil, the player that is expected to be a long-term staple of the franchise at left tackle. The deal is for four years with the club’s option for a fifth year and is expected to be worth about $20 million over four years.
Kalil, the No. 4 overall pick in April’s draft, and his agent had been at odds with the Vikings about so-called “offset language” the team wanted to place in his contract. Offset language allows for teams to recoup the difference in salary owed if they release a player and he signs with another team. The top three picks in the draft, quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III and running back Trent Richardson, all avoided offset language in their contracts. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Kalil is believed to have the fourth year of his contract guaranteed.
While the Vikings fully expect Kalil will be a fixture at left tackle for the four or five years of his rookie contract and beyond, they didn’t want to set a precedent of essentially guaranteeing a contract, whether it was for rookies or veterans.
“It’s just about getting the good contract and getting me here ready on time,” Kalil said upon checking into training camp with time to spare Thursday afternoon in Mankato. “We got that done, so I was not really nervous, just more anxious to get going. To get all this behind me is kind of – all summer long, just this contract hanging over my head – it’s finally done. I’m here in camp on time. That’s a good thing.”
The Vikings have their first practice, a walkthrough, Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. with the first full practice at 3 p.m.
Kalil’s accomplished college career would indicate there is no need to be concerned about his future status on the Vikings roster. He started the final 26 games of his USC career at left tackle and was named a consensus All-American his two full seasons as a starter, and was a first-team All-Pac 10 left tackle as a sophomore and a first-team All-Pac 12 left tackle as a junior. In 2011, he won the 32nd Annual Morris Trophy, awarded annually to the Pac 10/Pac 12’s top offensive linemen – selected by the starting defensive linemen in the conference.
Getting Kalil in camp on time means he will be able to go against the defending NFL sacks leader, defensive end Jared Allen. The two were having a good-natured Twitter trash talk after Allen told NBC Sports Talk that he doesn’t want to see Kalil holding him in practice.
“Just don’t touch me,” Allen said. “I’m too old to deal with overzealous rookies right now. Keep your hands out of my face, don’t grab my jersey and we won’t have to fist fight. That’s pretty much what it is.”
Kalil called Allen a “great guy” and said he already received pointers from him at minicamp, but Kalil didn’t seem to be particularly concerned if things got a little physical in the heat of training camp.
“You know, that’s what happens. It’s football. Sometimes things get heated, a bunch of grown men running around hitting each other,” Kalil said. “Some nerves will fly eventually, but that’s all part of the game.”
Kalil also knows that going against Allen, who had 22 sacks last year, will help him prepare to block some of the other challenging defensive ends in the NFL.
“I’m really excited,” he said about practicing against Allen. “The guy who was a half a sack away from breaking the all-time sack record, so obviously I’ve got a lot to learn from him. I think he will help me in any way he can. He’s a good team player, so he just wants to help the team out and get some wins. I think that’s the whole goal we want – take one game at a time and one win at a time and build this team up.”
Kalil’s selection at No. 4 overall made him the highest drafted Trojan offensive tackle since Tony Boselli was the No. 2 overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995. Kalil was also a special teams standout, blocking five kicks in his career, including a school record four blocks in 2011.
He has football in his bloodlines. His father Frank played for the Arizona Wranglers and Houston Gamblers of the USFL in 1983-84 and his brother Ryan (a fellow All-America selection at USC) is the starting center for the Carolina Panthers. Matt was a three-time all-state offensive tackle at Servite High School in Anaheim, Calif., and was named to more than a dozen All-America teams as a high school senior.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.