Instant analysis: Eagles set to release LB Mychal Kendricks

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According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Philadelphia Eagles are set to release Mychal Kendricks. The move comes as a shock given that veteran linebacker Paul Worrilow was carted off of the field just hours ago with a leg injury. Here’s everything you need to know.

‘The Why’:
In 2016, Kendricks was sidelined for most of the season through no real fault of his own. After playing in the dreaded fourth preseason game, the Eagles chose to roll out with Malcolm Jenkins in nickel formations after slot corner Ron Brooks went down with injury, as opposed to keeping Kendricks in the game as a third linebacker. He never had a game in which he registered more than 4 tackles, amassing a career-low 36 tackles and for the first time in his career, he failed to attain a single sack.

Appearing in just 26.8% of snaps, Kendricks seemed expendable. When he was on the field, he was haunted by missed tackles and impressive play by Malcolm Jenkins that forced the hands of his Defensive Coordinator. Something had to change in the offseason…and it did.

Before Kendricks even had a chance to step onto the field, pressure was building. Would the Eagles trade away their 2012 draftee? What could they get for him? At this point he had been shopped around the league for so long that any value would surely be minimal, right? Rumors came and rumors went, but Mychal Kendricks, who now had a big chip on his shoulder, stayed.

In 2017, the former 2nd-round pick came back like a man possessed. A liability in coverage no more, Kendricks forced his way back into the equation during Training Camp and once the green flag dropped on preseason, he let the fans know he wasn’t going anywhere either. Three interceptions in three games saw Kendricks make a very firm statement that he wasn’t intending on spending another year on the sidelines.

77 tackles, 2 sacks and 6 passes defensed sum up a simply remarkable bounce back season for #95. Playing in 59.4% of defensive snaps, Kendricks flashed some of the form last seen in his stunning 2013 breakout season. Schematic shifts and role changes have constantly kept the former Cal Bear guessing and his potential often capped…until Jim Schwartz unleashed it.

But then the Super Bowl serenade ended and it was business as usual for the Eagles. Kendricks was shopped again and again there were no takers. The linebacker had almost been forced onto the trade block so avidly that his value was dropping. If it’s a cap space move, the Eagles will save around $4.4M…which could be enough to sign a longer-term and cheaper replacement.

The Eagles were never going to get decent returns on a player so heavily shopped around and if they didn’t envision him on the team for much longer, cutting him not only saves money, but prompts competition.

 

What next?
Well, today it was Corey Nelson who saw Kendricks’ share of snaps at the WILL spot. The former Denver Bronco could well be a wildcard to snatch that role straight away and climb up the depth chart. What is worrying however is the injury sustained by Worrilow. While he’s an interior linebacker, the Eagles already have both injury and longevity concerns at the position. Cutting Kendricks, who put together a stellar year at this stage, would almost be a crazy move on the surface all things considered.

But you have to consider the culture. If the player doesn’t want to be there and will divide and weigh down the locker room, then it would be easier to save that cap space and invest in a replacement who does. I’m not advocating that this is the case, but after such a strong season, the Eagles didn’t exactly invest heavily in the linebacker spot, Bradham extension aside.

Kamu Grugier-Hill and Joe Walker will be two names looking to really take advantage of this opportunity, but do not be surprised to see the Eagles acquire some new linebacker talent before Training Camp begins later this year.

 

The move is surprising, but it’s not completely farfetched. If the Eagles have their eyes on a certain replacement, or better yet see someone like Corey Nelson as capable enough to step up to the mark, then they can save cap space and relieve Kendricks of an unnecessary burden in the process.

 

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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