In a recent 30-minute phone conversation I had with former Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks, he talked about how he felt his release was coming, especially after he was asked by the organization to take a $4 million pay cut and he refused. Kendricks was released on May 22.
Was he angry? No.
In many ways, to him, it was a release of frustration that had been mounting for the past couple of years. During the 2017 offseason, he asked for his release but his request was denied. Then, during the season, when defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz used a lot of two linebacker sets, Kendricks was the odd man out.
He would roam the sidelines wondering what he had to do to show the coaching staff that he was one of the best they had. As the saying goes, “one man’s injury is another man's opportunity.” When Jordan Hicks went down with a torn Achilles on Monday night against the Washington Redskins, Hicks’ season was over. But it was just the beginning for Kendricks.
Kendricks attacked each week with that proverbial chip on his shoulder and played his best ball as a professional. His stellar play increased throughout the playoffs. He told me how helping this franchise win its first Lombardi Trophy was about more than just being a champion. It was also about him being a significant contributor for the team’s historic moment, proving to all that he was more than just a role player.
“While I’m looking forward to my next chapter,” Kendricks said, “I don't know if any city I play in can match the loyalty and enthusiasm of the Eagles' fan base. I will truly miss that."
The passion in his voice was undeniable about his love for Philadelphia, and the fan base in this city.
“What I learned from previous Super Bowl winners like Chris Long and Malcolm Jenkins this past season on how to play at a championship level,” Kendricks said, “is something I can't wait to share with my new teammates where ever I go.”
So where is he going? He revealed to me that a minimum of eight teams have been pursuing him, and three teams have told him he would start for them immediately.
On Sunday, Ian Rappaport tweeted that Kendricks was about to sign with the Cleveland Browns, a rumor that Kendricks squashed shortly afterward. His text to me said, “fake news bruh we are in negotiations with teams period." (Although, it looks like he might be going to Cleveland, after all.)
As our conversation came to a close, Kendricks wanted to make something clear.
"I hold no animosity or ill will against the Philadelphia Eagles,” he said. “They gave me my professional start, helped me grow as a player and a man, paid me good money. I wish I could have stayed here, but I understand the business. I wish my former teammates well. We are brothers for life."