Through three preseason games Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks is putting his team in a tough position as to what to do with him. Kendricks has been the subject of trade speculation since his breakout sophomore season in 2013. During the offseason, it was Kendricks who requested the Eagles trade or release him. His wish was not granted. Kendricks, whether he is out to prove his team wrong and fight his way back onto the field or is balling out to increase his trade value, is playing like a man possessed.
The 2012 second-round pick has tallied an interception in each of the Eagles three preseason games while also notching four tackles and a sack. Against the Dolphins on Thursday night, Kendricks returned his third interception for a touchdown. In three preseason games, the former Cal Bear has matched his career regular season total for interceptions.
After struggling to get playing time in 2016, Kendricks is taking advantage of the preseason to show his team he’s still got it and deserves to see the field. He has been all over the field and looks like the Kendricks of old.
Prior to the preseason, Kendricks was one of the leading candidates to be a big name release for the Eagles. Now, the Eagles are put in a very tough positions with Kendricks. There are essentially three options – cut, trade, keep.
If the Eagles cut him, they are admitting defeat five years after they spent a second-round pick on the linebacker. They are also owning up to the mistake of signing Kendricks to a four-year, $29 million extension in 2015. The release of Kendricks would lead to $9.15 million in dead cap money. This would be the worst option the Eagles would resort to and would likely only happen if the team couldn’t find a trade partner.
Speaking of trade…that is another option the Eagles have. Kendricks could start on at least eight teams around the league. He’s not bad, he has just struggled to see the field in the Eagles defense that is home to two fantastic linebackers in Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham. This preseason, though, the 26-year-old has put anyone who watches an Eagles game on notice.
What the Eagles could get in return for Kendricks is up in the air. It really depends on which teams show interest and what stock that team puts into three preseason games. The Eagles would likely settle for a fifth- or sixth-round pick for Kendricks if they are able to find a team interested. The team had reportedly shopped Kendricks for a lengthy period during the offseason which certainly won’t help their leverage.
Eagles GM Howie Roseman would likely elect to trade Kendricks for a draft pick rather than a player. The Eagles have plenty of decisions to make when roster cut downs come and adding another fringe player into that mix will only complicate that process.
Finally, the Eagles could elect to keep Kendricks. At the pace he is playing, Kendricks could revive his career and earn playing time again. If Kendricks plays anything like his 2013-2015 self, the Eagles could easily have one of the best linebacking corps in the league. From rushing the passer to dropping into coverage to playing the run, Kendricks has shown his versatility and dominated across the board in the 2017 preseason. The problem is, he’s already made his opinions known and they don’t point toward the linebacker wanting a long-term future with a team that tried to get rid of him.
If the revival of Kendricks’ career is for real and the preseason is the kickoff for it, Kendricks could be one of the best comeback stories for the Eagles in recent memory. Kendricks has been outcast and has spent his last few years on the trade block. After this preseason, he has put the Eagles in a very tough position on what to do with the linebacker.
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Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports