The Minnesota Vikings are releasing 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 had 137 tackles.
- The Vikings needed to clear $23 million of their 2023 salary to go below the cap.
- Kendricks’ release saves the team about $9.5 million from the cap, according to Spotrac.com.
AthleticismInstant analysis of:
Why did the Vikings choose to free Kendricks?
It’s a combination of what the team needed to do from a salary cap and defense perspective. As early as last year, when General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was hired, he laid out a two-year plan. This involved bringing in younger players to replace those who were getting older. One of them was Eric Kendricks. The Vikings entered this offseason needing to clear about $23 million to eliminate their cap deficit.
Kendricks, who has a cap of $9.5 million for 2023, was an obvious option. He is 31 years old. His game in 2022 has raised questions about his long-term athleticism in an era of the game that has shifted heavily towards midfield. Ultimately, this decision seemed inevitable, as the team considered their options. — lewis
Who will replace Kendricks?
Currently, Brian Asamoah, who the team drafted last year in the third round, appears to be in contention for the role. Asamoah, a product of Oklahoma, is an athletic wrecking ball. He walks towards the ball and launches with all his might. Asamoah also possesses a degree of aptitude that should match the pattern of newly hired defensive coordinator Brian Flores.
There’s also the potential and maybe even a high probability that the Vikings could draft — or try to acquire — another suitable linebacker for depth. — lewis
What moves will the Vikings make next?
There will certainly be others. The Vikings still remain in the red from a salary cap perspective. Kendricks is a fixture in the franchise, but others like Adam Thielen could become victims of the cap. Thielen, for example, is 32 years old and has a cap of $19 million. Even he said that he and the team will try to find an agreement.
Whether or not that’s possible could play a role in what the team chooses to do with safety Harrison Smith, who also has a $19 million cap, and Za’Darius Smith, whose release could save $13 million. dollars to the team. — lewis
What they say
“It’s extremely difficult to start over 100 games in this league, but Eric has been a fixture in the locker room since joining the NFL,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said in a statement. “During my first year as head coach, Eric played a vital role as captain and board member in helping to establish the culture we want in Minnesota. He was a constant mentor to his young teammates and his tireless work ethic set a standard for others to emulate.I’m grateful to have had the chance to coach Eric as a player and get to know him as a person.
The Vikings selected Kendricks in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He spent all eight seasons of his career with Minnesota and was named a First Team All-Pro in 2019.
(Photo: Eric Hartline/USA Today)