At this point in the offseason, there aren’t a lot of players that suddenly become available on the market that have a ton of experience. Instead, you’ll see a lot of transactions like the one the Detroit Lions made on Monday—claiming an undrafted rookie that was already waived by another team.
However, the Philadelphia Eagles are reportedly breaking the mold. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, they are releasing veteran linebacker Mychal Kendricks today, despite losing former Lions linebacker Paul Worrilow to a torn ACL during OTAs on Tuesday.
And because this kind of mid-May release is somewhat rare, everyone is already asking: Is he a fit for the Lions?
Kendricks has been the subject of trade talks for several years in Philadelphia. Last year, they almost sent him to the 49ers. The Falcons reportedly made a run at him before. But despite all the rumors, the former second-round pick has stayed in Philly for all six NFL seasons. Releasing Kendricks will free up $4.4 million in cap space, per Spotrac.
Kendricks has been a significant contributor with the Eagles, despite going through a schematic change from a 3-4 defense to Jim Schwartz’s 4-3 scheme. Throughout it all, Kendricks has started at least eight games in every season, including 13 last year. Pro Football Focus graded Kendricks as the ninth best linebacker in the league in 2017.
So would he fit with the Lions? Well, the versatility is definitely a huge plus in a defense that demands it from its players. The Lions are also lacking in a lot of linebacker talent. Outside of Jarrad Davis and Devon Kennard, there are no clear starters currently on the team’s roster.
As for his fit in Patricia’s defense, Pats Pulpit’s Rich Hill did a great job explaining how Kendricks could fit in an article debating whether the Patriots should try to trade for him last year:
Kendricks strength at middle linebacker is his ability to crash the pocket on blitzes and Schwartz refused to use him in that capacity this year; the Patriots blitz linebackers more than 30 other NFL teams (trailing only the New York Giants). He would fit in nicely next to Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, and Shea McClellin as linebackers that could penetrate the pocket, while also compete in the open field.
Kendricks doesn’t quite fit the mold of Patricia’s free agent additions of big, bulky linebackers. He’s just 6-foot, 230 pounds, but his athleticism and speed—he ran a 4.47 at the NFL Combine in 2012—make him a valuable threat to both blitz and play in coverage. He only has 14 career sacks, but he had six passes defended in 2017 alone (the best number for Lions linebackers last year was three passes defended, by Jarrad Davis).
He would be a good addition to the Lions, but there are two big concerns: competing teams and market price. Considering multiple teams considered trading for him in the past couple years, he’s clearly going to have an active market in free agency. Therefore, there’s a good chance he’ll come at a significant price.
According to the NFLPA salary cap report, the Lions have around $9.2 million in cap space right now, good enough for just 22nd in the league. That’s going to make it tough for the Lions to make a serious run at Kendricks.
Should the Lions pursue Mychal Kendricks?
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