It appeared like Ryan Kalil’s time in the NFL was over after 2018, but the star center surprisingly decided to join the Jets for one season after realizing he had more in the tank.
Kalil, who spent the first 12 seasons of his professional career with the Panthers, shed light on his choice Saturday.
“I just had a hard time moving on,” Kalil said, via NorthJersey.com. “I had a hard time turning the page. … Especially after coming off 2018 healthy, feeling great, feeling spry again, I just felt like I had more football.”
Kalil retired with Carolina in December and moved back to southern California, where he’s from. But the gridiron kept calling him back.
“Started living the beach life a little bit,” Kalil said. “Getting back ingrained with the community where I grew up. And March came around and I just started getting the itch again.”
Kalil, 34, signed a one-year, $8.4 million deal with the Jets. He’ll have to meet some incentives to get all that money, but the five-time Pro-Bowl player didn’t take much of a pay cut — he made $9.75 million in 2018.
New York is optimistic he can help it improve from last year’s 4-12 season. It it added a top-tier running back in Le’Veon Bell over the offseason and has a promising young quarterback in Sam Darnold.
“This was (a) unique opportunity with an unbelievable person and player,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas said. “I can’t tell you how excited I am that Ryan chose to be here.”