One of the Indianapolis Colts largest areas of need heading into the 2018 season is at linebacker. Just a short time ago a linebacker who can legitimately improve this position right away became available.
Eagles releasing veteran LB Mychal Kendricks, per source. Kendricks spent six years with Eagles; he’s not expected to be unemployed long.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 22, 2018
Kendricks being released isn’t going to send him through the waiver system though which the Colts are sitting in the No. 3 spot. Once a vested veteran has accrued 4 years of “pension credit” they are free to negotiate their way onto another roster.
The Eagles have been trying to trade Kendricks for the past couple years, but he continued to produce nevertheless. When starting at least three-quarters of a season, Kendricks has accumulated at least 70-plus tackles, brings a couple sacks and is quality in coverage.
Kendricks has had some injury issues and has been seen as a better option as a 3-4 inside backer, however, one wonders if new coach Frank Reich might see things differently and push for him to be signed. There is the familiarity, and he has been successful in a 4-3 system, but he is 28 and Chris Ballard hasn’t been all that quick to snatch up guys approaching this age range as long-term answers.
While Kendricks has been the Eagles’ WILL linebacker, and the Colts just drafted Darius Leonard who they expect to start in that role this season, his experience and quality play puts him in contention for multiple roles should the Colts spend some money to scoop him up. On the other hand, apparently Kendricks’ monetary situation was one of the factors that led to his release.
There’s this from the Eagles’ team site:
Kendricks’ release wasn’t entirely shocking, as it had long been rumored given his healthy hit (a reported $7.6 million) against the team’s salary cap. In fact, Kendricks requested to be traded prior to the 2017 season, a request the Eagles denied. He went on to play 59 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in the regular season.
Also, Kendricks’ release is reported to be a post-June 1st designation which saves the Eagles some money. The Colts have a lot of money to use, and though we don’t expect Chris Ballard to make it rain like Adam Jones in the club, this price tag doesn’t appear to be too steep for a roster bereft of game changers.
The Colts don’t have a lot of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. However, the addition of Kendricks and possibly even a future signing of someone like Bashaud Breeland — whom the Colts have already met with — the team’s defense would be a solid improvement from last year’s unit.