Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis will have company on his retirement tour next season: Veteran center Ryan Kalil plans to retire after the 2018 season, too.
“This is going to be the last one for me,” Kalil told the Observer in a phone interview Tuesday.
Like Davis, who recently said 2018 will be his final year, Kalil will have played his entire career with the team that drafted him. Kalil, who turns 33 in March, was the Panthers’ second-round pick in 2007.
Kalil, a five-time Pro Bowler, doesn’t want or expect a lot of fanfare during his 12th and final season.
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“I’m not doing the farewell tour,” he said, “that’s for sure.”
Kalil is entering the final year of his contract that will pay him $4.5 million in base salary. He will play his last year alongside his younger brother, Matt, the Panthers’ left tackle who signed with the team last offseason.
Ryan Kalil hopes his final season won’t be interrupted by injury.
Kalil was limited to six regular-season games in 2017 while dealing with a serious neck injury. He declined again Tuesday to get into the specifics of the injury, saying he doesn’t want opposing players to target it.
“I’m of the mindset to try to keep my medical stuff as private as humanly possible,” he said, “thus the vagueness that you get and the jokes that accompany it with me waking up with a stiff neck and things like that.”
Kalil says he’s been cleared by the Panthers’ medical staff, as well as a specialist he visited in California both during and after the season.
Kalil says he feels good physically and is excited about having a full offseason to train. A shoulder surgery in 2016 prevented Kalil from doing much training last offseason.
“The thing I’m excited about is to actually have an offseason to train because I haven’t had that. I didn’t get that last year and I think that’s part of what contributed to my injury this last season,” Kalil said.
“I didn’t get to start training until right around training camp, like actually football training. I just felt way behind and I didn’t feel as physically ready for the season as I would have liked to have been.”
Kalil, who spends part of his offseason near his childhood home in southern California, says he recently met with new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, the San Diego Chargers’ former coach.
Kalil jokingly said he has a bone to pick with Turner, who met with Kalil during the pre-draft process in 2004. Kalil, who grew up a Chargers fan, said he was fired up about the prospects of playing for San Diego – until the meeting.
“I went in the interview ready to have all these answers about what I could bring to the team, and why they should draft me,” Kalil said. “And all he wanted to know was about these other players they were interested in and if I were him, which guy would I draft over which guy? I was pretty (ticked) about that.”