Sat Aug 3 5:15pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
Ryan Kalil was introduced Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, after signing a one-year deal with the New York Jets at the Jets facility in Florham Park, NJ. (AP Photo/Dennis Waszak)
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Ryan Kalil thought he was done playing football. His body said so, and so did his mind.
His heart told him otherwise.
The five-time Pro Bowl center was ready for retirement. Not anymore.
Kalil signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets on Saturday, resuming a career everyone - including himself - thought was over.
''I moved back to California with my family and started living the beach life a little bit, getting ingrained back in the community where I grew up,'' Kalil said. ''March came around and I started getting the itch again.
''To say it's done and make that such a definitive thing, it was so finite. But I had a hard time moving on, I had a hard time turning the page.''
The 34-year-old Kalil played 12 seasons for the Carolina Panthers and was often recognized as one of the league's best at his position. He started every game last season for Carolina after playing just six in 2017 because of a neck injury.
Going into last season, Kalil announced it would be his last. It was a decision with which he was at peace, even as others wondered why he was walking away.
Former Redskins tight end Don Warren, a scout for the Panthers, sought out Kalil after Carolina's season finale at New Orleans and hugged the big lineman.
''He wouldn't let my arm go,'' Kalil recalled. ''He was just like, `What are you doing? Why are you not playing anymore?' So, that's been ringing in my head for a while now.''
In March, the urge to play again grew stronger. Kalil spoke to his agent, Tom Condon, and several former teammates, including former Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme.
Kalil wasn't sure what to do. He started working out as if preparing for another season.
''That helped sort of get the bug back again and wanting to play,'' Kalil said.
But by the time Kalil committed to a return, the Panthers had already moved on by signing free agent Matt Paradis to replace him. So a sudden reunion in Carolina wasn't in the cards.
Kalil continued to train - and wait.
The opportunity came a few weeks before training camp, when new Jets general manager Joe Douglas spoke to Kalil, mostly about their thoughts on what made a winning team - Kalil with Carolina and Douglas with Baltimore and Philadelphia.
''I liked what Joe had to say,'' Kalil said.
The two had a few more conversations over the course of a few weeks, with Douglas gauging where Kalil's mindset was as far as playing.
On Thursday came the decision that stunned the NFL: Kalil and the Jets had agreed on a one-year deal worth $8.4 million.
''When you talk about a guy we want in this organization,'' Douglas said, ''Ryan Kalil checks all those boxes.''
Kalil flew to New Jersey, passed his physical and then officially signed Saturday.
''There's a lot of people mad at me in Carolina,'' Kalil said. ''Rightfully so, but I love that place.''
Now, though, Kalil is focused on getting ready to anchor the Jets' offensive line and build a rapport with second-year quarterback Sam Darnold - a former USC star like Kalil.
''He's a big reason for me being here,'' Kalil said. ''I've been a fan of Sam's since watching him at SC. Sam and I know each other a little bit. We've talked in passing.''
They're about to have a lot more conversations - starting now.
''I've heard how beneficial a guy like Josh (McCown) was to Sam's development last year,'' Douglas said. ''I really think that torch can be passed to Ryan this year as far as his development.''
Kalil said he weighed in at 297 pounds - 2 more than his usual playing weight. After retiring, he dropped all the way down to 260.
''I feel like I'm in great shape,'' he said. ''Football shape, I'm going to need a little time for that.''
Coach Adam Gase said he and the coaches will meet Sunday during the players' day off from practices and map out a plan for Kalil.
For now, Kalil is thrilled to be back - off his couch and on the football field.
''I'm just grateful for the opportunity to live the dream a little bit longer,'' he said. ''I've been playing football since I was 8 years old, so you can imagine how hard it is to say you're done and walk away. I also want to apologize to anybody that I publicly or behind closed doors that I criticized for retiring and then coming back. I totally understand it now. I totally get it.''
NOTES: LT Kelvin Beachum has a low ankle sprain and will be sidelined a few days. ... RB/WR Ty Montgomery (ankle) and CB Trumaine Johnson (groin) were back at practice after getting hurt Friday. ... G Tyler Jones (calf) and LB Harvey Langi (knee) left practice with injuries. ... The Jets waived TE Temuchin Hodges to make room on the roster for Kalil.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (knee) is expected to play in Week 12 against the New England Patriots. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones himself is the source here, who said he expects his top wide receiver to play in a huge game against the 9-1 Patriots. Cooper played on just 55 percent of offensive snaps in Week 11, but Jones stating this early in the week that Cooper will play could be good news. Fantasy owners should keep a close eye on practice reports this week to see how limited Cooper is leading up to Sunday.
The Miami Dolphins waived running back Mark Walton on Tuesday morning. Walton was already suspended for violating the league's personal conduct policy, but the Dolphins were, "made aware of a police matter earlier this morning regarding Walton" according to Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier. Kalen Ballage will continue as the lead back for the Dolphins presumably for the rest of the season. Walton, still only 22 years old, may already be running out of chances in the NFL.
Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley took advantage of the thin air in Mexico City and drilled a 49-yarder, the second longest good kick of his career. While Badgley did barely miss a 40-yard shot in the first quarter, he was able to make kicks from 27, 26, and 49 yards on the night. Badgley's leg kept LA in the game since their offense sputtered terribly once they were staring down the goal line, but unfortunately, the Chargers fell to the Chiefs anyway. Badgley has made 80% of his field goal tries and all of his extra points since he returned from a severe groin injury. He's not a superstar or Mr. Dependable, but he's getting the job done well enough for an LA franchise that struggled with kicking woes for years.
Los Angeles Chargers safety Rayshawn Jenkins made a slashing leap in front of a Chiefs receiver to snag his third interception of the year on Monday night. The pick was just the second one of the season for quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and LA is the first defense this season to hold Mahomes under 200 yards passing when he played a full game. Unfortunately, failures on the offensive side of the ball cost the Chargers the game even though the defense held KC to just 24 total points. While it looks like the season is a wash for LA, their defense can still be useful if they can play like that more often.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen finally ended his touchdown drought. In the third quarter of Monday night's loss to the Chiefs, Allen was able to snag a quick pass and dive his way through a couple of defenders to get the score. It was Allen's first touchdown in eight games, and his 71 yards receiving are the most he's posted since Week 3. After a monster start to the year, Allen has become a ghost. While it's easy to blame it on Allen, it's starting to look like the problem originates with Philip Rivers instead. Rivers appears to be getting real old real fast, and that could explain why Allen, traditionally the team's outside man, has gotten lost in the shuffle.
Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry tacked another 69 yards onto his season total in Monday night's loss to the Chiefs. He's now either tallied 60+ receiving yards or a touchdown in six of the seven games he's played this season, and he's still averaging 12.5 yards per reception this season. Henry has been in a constant struggle with his health, but he seems to be fully healthy now. When he's at the top of his game, Henry is arguably the best tight end in the NFL, and he's proving it this season. Even with a quarterback who has been struggling, Henry is putting up a fine season.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler was the man to beat on Monday night, but even he couldn't will the team to a victory. Ekeler carried the ball five times for 24 yards and caught eight of 12 passes sent his way, tallying another 108 yards. Unfortunately, the moment that will get the most attention was the game-ending interception Philip Rivers threw Ekeler's direction. There's no question that the pick was purely Rivers' fault, but his performance really overshadowed what should have been a star-studded Sportscenter appearance for Ekeler, a backup running back who happens to be incredibly valuable. Unfortunately, the unpredictability in Ekeler's touches from week to week limits his dependable fantasy value.
With the game on the line and 75 yards to go, Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams picked a huge moment to make a phenomenal catch. Having only caught one pass so far in the match, Williams launched himself up and hauled in a bomb from Philip Rivers to get his team just outside the red zone. Unfortunately, Rivers would throw a game-sealing pick a few plays later. The big play at least gave Williams a respectable fantasy performance, and he now has a reception of 43+ yards in each of his last four games. He's also caught at least one pass for 20 or more yards in his last nine games, and he's become a regular fixture in the Chargers passing attack.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers put up a couple of nice numbers on Monday night as he completed 28 passes for 353 yards and a touchdown, but he also only completed 53.9% of the passes he threw and tossed four interceptions including a game-ending pick in the end zone. Rivers has now moved into sole possession of second place in the league in interceptions with 14, and he's only posted a QB rating over 85 in two of his last seven games. He still has the ability to sling it on occasion, but for the most part, it looks like time has caught up to Rivers. He just can't make the throws anymore, and his decision-making hasn't accepted that fact yet.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon rushed the ball 14 times for 69 yards and caught three passes for 21 more yards in Monday's loss to the Chiefs. Averaging 4.9 yards per carry, it was surprising LA didn't lean more heavily on Gordon's ground game, especially with Philip Rivers throwing interception after interception. However, Gordon still topped 90 scrimmage yards, even if he didn't get to hit the end zone on any of his touches. With Rivers looking like a shell of his former self, Gordon could be in for some greater use over the team's remaining games. He remains one of the most potent parts of the Chargers offense.
Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker has been one of the more reliable fantasy kickers all season. In most games Butkler has been able to connect on multiple field goals, but Week 11 was not one of those games. It wasn't his fault, Butker hit a 41 yard field goal in the victory over the Chargers. That was his only field goal attempt of the game as the Chiefs won 24-17. The Chiefs head into a bye week in Week 12 so fantasy owners who don't have a lot of depth might consider dropping Butker. The Chiefs offense is strong and Butker gets plenty of chances each week. It's not wise to drop Butker for the upcoming bye week, unless you have no other options.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins was expected to have a solid game after having reliable performances the last few weeks. Instead, Watkins was only able to haul in two of three targets for 26 yards in this one. Tyreek Hill (hamstring) left after the opening drive, but Watkins wasn't able to capitalize. The Chiefs were able to get the win in Week 11, but Watkins didn't do much to help that. Kansas City has a bye week in Week 12, but then has a strong matchup against the shaky Raiders secondary. However, at this point in the season it's tough to trust Watkins. Fantasy owners should consider him a WR3 going forward.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman gave a nice jolt to the offense when Tyreek Hill (hamstring) and Sammy Watkins went down earlier in the season. However, they were both healthy the last few weeks. Hardman has seen his usage take a hit because of that, but that might change once again. Hill went down after the first drive during the Week 11 victory over the Chargers. However, Hardman was only targeted four times and caught two of them for 13 yards. The Chiefs head into a bye week in Week 12, so that might give Hill enough time to recover. Otherwise, Hardman could be on the flex radar with Hill sidelined. When Watkins and Hill are healthy, Hardman is only worth using in deep leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (ribs) was not able to do much damage during the Week 11 victory over the Chargers. Williams rushed four times for seven yards and caught one pass for six yards. He left during the second quarter due to a ribs injury and didn't return. Veteran LeSean McCoy and Darrel Williams took over the running back duties from there. Both players scored a touchdown in this one, but that pattern is unlikely to continue. The Chiefs head into a bye week in Week 12, so it remains to be seen if Williams will miss any time from this ribs issue.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was by far the best offensive player on the field Monday against the Chargers. Tyreek Hill (hamstring) went down early and that forced Kelce into an even bigger role than normal. Kelce caught seven of 10 targets for 92 yards and one touchdown in the Week 11 victory. He's now hauled in three touchdowns over the last four weeks, so fantasy owners are loving that. Kelce heads into a bye week in Week 12, but then gets a juicy matchup against the Raiders, a team he crushed earlier in the season.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams was not expected to do much heading into the game, but saw more action due to injuries. Lead back Damien Williams (ribs) left in the second quarter and did not return to the game. Veteran LeSean McCoy saw more action as well, but it was likely because of the injury to Williams. The third string back Williams saw 11 attempts for 35 yards and one touchdown. The Chiefs head into a bye week, so Williams probably won't have much fantasy value going forward. He's not worth an add in basically any format despite a decent fantasy output here.
Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy was a healthy scratch during the Week 10 loss to the Titans, but returned here. McCoy carried the ball seven times for 29 yards and a touchdown in the Monday night victory over the Chargers in Week 11. Damien Williams (ribs) left the game early in the second quarter, so that helped McCoy see more action than usual. Darrel Williams saw 11 carries, so the Chiefs backfield is a messy situation right now. The Chiefs head into a bye week in Week 12, so fantasy owners will have to wait and see what happens next. McCoy should only hold low-end flex value in most formats going forward.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was not the MVP type of QB that fantasy owners are used to watching. He completed 19 of 32 passing attempts for 182 yards and one touchdown with one interception. It was a career-low in passing yards for Mahomes in the Week 11 win over the Chargers. Mahomes ran five times for 59 yards on the ground. Losing Tyreek Hill (hamstring) in the first drive of the game didn't help at all. The Chiefs head into a bye week, but fantasy owners shouldn't be worried about Mahomes' performance going forward. It was a shaky game for Mahomes, but he'll bounce back fine against the Raiders in Week 13.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that it "has not been looking good" on getting rookie wide receiver Jalen Hurd (back) back this season. Hurd suffered a setback recently and probably will not come off Injured Reserve to play in what has become a lost rookie season. Hurd has a chance to make some noise in 2020 and beyond next to rookie standout Deebo Samuel, so he's a good candidate to stash in dynasty/keeper leagues. Emmanuel Sanders will remain the team's No. 1 wideout the rest of the way, with Samuel gaining steam. All of Marquise Goodwin, Kendrick Bourne, Richie James and Dante Pettis just can't be trusted in this run-first offense.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay said he expects wide receiver Brandin Cooks (concussion), who has missed the last two games, to return in Week 12 on Monday night against the Ravens. It's great news for Cooks owners and for quarterback Jared Goff, who has struggled mightily the last two games. However, Cooks will be a risky boom-or-bust WR3 against a much-improved Baltimore secondary if he returns on Monday night. The deep threat would be more appealing if Robert Woods (personal) misses another game, but that's probably unlikely.