Mychal Kendricks

Mychal Kendricks holds 'no animosity' toward Eagles

AP Images

Mychal Kendricks holds 'no animosity' toward Eagles

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."

It looks like Mychal Kendricks is signing with Browns after all

USA Today Images

It looks like Mychal Kendricks is signing with Browns after all

Updated: 10:05 p.m.

Well, it looks like Mychal Kendricks is actually signing with the Browns after all.

Earlier on Sunday night, Kendricks denied a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that he was signing a one-year deal with the Browns, even telling NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Derrick Gunn that the report was “fake news” and tweeting to Rapoport, “You will never have my respect.” A league source also told NBC Sports Philadelphia that the initial report was “not true.”

Perhaps this was a failed attempt to gain some last-minute leverage.

Because, a few hours later, Yahoo! Sports’ Jordan Schultz and the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot have reported Kendricks agreed to terms of a contract that could be worth up to $3.5 million in 2018.

The Eagles released Kendricks back on May 22 but did it with a post-June 1 designation. That meant the Eagles had to carry his full cap hit through June 1. But now, they have an extra $6 million in cap space for this season.

When the Eagles did cut ties with Kendricks, it ended a long and strange career for Kendricks in Philly. Once a second-round pick in 2012, Kendricks was a dynamic player, who got a big contract, but then eventually became a role player upset with his lack of playing time.

In 2017, Kendricks played a big role after Jordan Hicks went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. But with Hicks back and Nigel Bradham re-signed, Kendricks was facing another season as the odd man left out. And he was simply too expensive for the team to keep around in that role again.

After his release, Kendricks told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark, ”I love Philly fans and I love Philly. We did something special this past year that no one can ever take away. All good things have to come to an end and it’s time for myself to start the next chapter in my career.”

With Kendricks out of the picture, there are several Eagles who will battle for that starting weakside linebacker position, starting with free agent pickup Corey Nelson and second-year draft pick Nate Gerry (see story).

Eagles officially receive salary cap space with Mychal Kendricks release

USA Today Images

Eagles officially receive salary cap space with Mychal Kendricks release

Howie Roseman woke up Saturday morning with a little extra cash to spend. 

It’s finally June 2, which means they’ll have the extra cap savings from releasing Mychal Kendricks back on May 22. 

The Eagles designated Kendricks as a post-June 1 cut, which saved $6 million this season instead of $4.4 million, but they needed to carry his full cap hit through June 1. It basically spread out the damages over two years instead of one. Now they made it past June 1 and will have just $1.6 million in dead money. 

So how much cap space do they have? 

Well, before June 1, the NFLPA listed them with just $94,224 — not a lot. But then add in the $6 million for Kendricks and subtract around $500,000 for the next guy who will slide up into the top 51 of salaries that count toward the salary cap and the Eagles should have around … 

… drumroll …

Around $5.6 million in cap space for now. 

So now that Roseman has some cash to blow, how will he use it? 

The most obvious answer is to re-sign veteran safety Corey Graham. Graham is 32 now but played well for the Eagles on a one-year deal worth $1.6 million in 2017. He would likely command a similar salary this year. 

You’ll remember how important Graham was last year. With a third safety the Eagles could count on, Jim Schwartz was able to utilize Malcolm Jenkins’ versatility. The Eagles have a few players who could maybe fill that void, but they’re unproven. 

“Yet to be told with that,” Schwartz said when asked if a younger player could be that type of third safety. “But Corey Graham did play a significant part in being able to move Malcolm around. Corey was another guy that had played corner, played nickel, played a lot of special teams, and had played safety a little bit like Malcolm.”

If the Eagles do re-sign Graham, they don’t have to rush to do it. He’s an 11-year veteran and two-time Super Bowl champ. They don’t have to worry about him not being ready. And last year, they waited until Aug. 3 to sign him to that one-year deal after he had been on the street since March. 

Another possibility fans are talking about is to give Brandon Graham an extension. Graham is the Eagles’ best defensive end and is entering the final year of his contract. But with a cap hit of $8 million in 2018, an extension would likely push cap money toward the end of a new contract, so it’s not likely the lack of cap space has been the holdup. 

A couple other possibilities for that cap space: 

1. A trade

The Eagles made five player trades in July and August last offseason. While none of those moves added big contracts, some extra cap room can give flexibility to pull the trigger on a deal.  

2. Keep it

Cap space in the NFL rolls over. If a team doesn’t use it, it rolls over to the following season. The Eagles can use it next offseason.