The Minnesota Vikings have released linebacker Eric Kendricks, the team announced Monday. Here’s what you need to know:
- The 31-year-old started all 17 games for the Vikings last season and recorded 137 total tackles.
- The Vikings needed to clear $23 million of their 2023 salary to join the cap.
- According to Spotrac.com, Kendricks’ release saves the team approximately $9.5 million on the cap.
the athleteInstant Analysis:
Why did the Vikings choose to release Kendrix?
It’s a combination of what the team had to do from a salary cap and defense perspective. At the beginning of last year when general manager Kwesi Adfo-Mensah was appointed, he laid out a two-year plan. This involved recruiting young players to replace aging players. One of them was Eric Kendricks. The Vikings entered the season needing to liquidate about $23 million to eliminate a cap deficit.
Kendricks, who has a cap figure of $9.5 million for 2023, was an obvious choice. He is 31 years old. His play in 2022 raised questions about his long-term athletic performance in an era of the game that has transitioned largely to midfield work. In the end, the move seemed inevitable, as the team explored its options. – Louis
Who will replace Kendricks?
At the moment, Brian Asamoah, who was drafted by the team last year in the third round, appears to be in the same order. Asamoah, an Oklahoma product, is a sports wrecking ball. He heads towards the ball and launches himself with full force. Asamoah also possesses a degree of aptitude that should fit into the scheme of newly appointed Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores.
There’s also the possibility, perhaps even high probability, that the Vikings could draft — or attempt to acquire — another suitable linebacker for depth. – Louis
What moves will the Vikings make next?
There will definitely be more. The Vikings are still in the red from a salary cap perspective. Kendricks is a franchise game, but others like Adam Thielen can also become victims. Thelen, for example, is 32 years old and has a ceiling of $19 million. He even expressed that he and the team would try to come to an agreement.
Whether or not that is feasible could play a role in what the team chooses to do with safeties Harrison Smith, who also has a cap figure of $19 million, and Zadarius Smith, whose release could save the team $13 million. – Louis
what are they saying
“It’s incredibly difficult to start 100+ games in this league, but Eric has been a staple in the locker room since entering the NFL,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said in a statement. “During my first year as head coach, Eric played an important role as a leader and member of the leadership council in helping to instill in Minnesota the culture we want. He has been a consistent mentor to younger teammates, and his tireless work ethic has set a standard for others to follow. I am grateful. Because I had the opportunity to coach Eric as a player and to get to know him as a person.”
The Vikings selected Kendricks in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He has spent all eight seasons of his career with Minnesota and was named First Team All-Pro in 2019.
(Photo: Eric Hartline/USA Today)
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