Up until August 1, it seemed all but certain that Ryan Kalil was done. But, for the first time in his 12-year career, the long-time Panther will suit up in different colors and he's eager to get started.
In his first media appearance since signing a one-year deal to come out of retirement and play for the Jets, Kalil spoke on what led to him deciding to leave the comforts of "beach life" in California and come back for at least one more season.
"Coming off 2018, healthy, feeling great, feeling spry again, I just felt like I had more football," Kalil said about how he felt after announcing his retirement. "And, by the time I sort of came around to collecting my thoughts and my feelings about it, it was already too late in Carolina. They moved on."
Kalil quickly followed up his comments on the end of his time with the Panthers, the team that drafted him 59th overall in 2007, by heaping praise on the team's new center Matt Paradis, saying Carolina "got an upgrade in a lot of ways."
In his 12 seasons in Carolina, Kalil made five Pro Bowls and was named twice to the All-Pro first team and once to the second team.
In regards to his next career step, Kalil spoke on how the dialogue began between him, his agent Tom Condon and Jets GM Joe Douglas, who reached out first to Kalil's camp.
"At the time, my plan was I was going to start working out again the only way I really know how to work out, which is train for football season and that helped sort of get the bug back again and wanting to play," Kalil said, adding that he was initially looking to stay ready in case an opportunity arose.
Once such an opportunity was presented to him, Kalil said he got on the phone with Douglas and "really liked what he had to say" about offensive line play and that the two had several weeks of conversation.
"We talked a lot about what made a winning team and what I told Joe was the best teams I've been on had a really good balance of young experience and old experience and so we both felt strongly that I could help out in that regard," Kalil shared.
Kalil also said that, while he understands there's "a lot people mad me in Carolina right now," he still loves the team and he's "so grateful" for his time there. He even mentioned that he called his former coach Ron Rivera and O-line coach John Matsko and ex-teammates Greg Olsen, Luke Kuechly and Christian McCaffrey, among others to help him be at peace with his decision.
He concluded saying that he is approaching his playing weight -- he's currently 297 while he's been around 295 his whole career -- and will continue to get ready for the season and to play with QB Sam Darnold, who he says is a "big reason" for him being there.
"I look forward to getting after it and getting back into it and just grateful for the opportunity to live the dream a little bit longer," Kalil said. "I'm here to compete, play hard, I've got some good football left in me and I hope I don't let you guys down."