CHARLOTTE – The Panthers have placed their franchise tag on center Ryan Kalil for the 2011 season, the team announced Tuesday.
Kalil, coming off his second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance, was set to become a free agent when the new league year begins. The non-exclusive franchise player designation gives Carolina a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to Kalil by another team. The Panthers would retain Kalil by matching the offer or would be compensated with two first-round draft picks if they didn't match.
As a part of the franchise tag, the Panthers must tender a minimum one-year qualifying offer of the average of the top five salaries from last season at Kalil's position or 120 percent of his 2010 salary, whichever is greater.
Kalil, a second-round draft pick out of Southern California in 2007, started all 16 games this past season and contributed to a rushing attack that averaged 115.4 rushing yards per game, 13th best in the NFL. Carolina rushed for more than 100 yards in eight of its final nine games, averaging 138.6 yards over that span.
In 2009, Kalil helped running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart become the first duo in NFL history to top 1,100 yards rushing in the same season.
Kalil is the first Panthers offensive lineman ever to appear in back-to-back Pro Bowls.
This marks the fourth time that Carolina has used the franchise tag. The Panthers used it on defensive end Julius Peppers in 2009, on left tackle Jordan Gross in 2008 and on punter Todd Sauerbrun in 2003.