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February 12, 2017

Source: Eagles likely to trade LB Mychal Kendricks

According to a source, the Philadelphia Eagles are willing to move on from Mychal Kendricks this offseason, and it is anticipated that teams around the league will have interest in acquiring Kendricks via a trade.

Kendricks will count for $6,600,000 against the salary cap in 2017, $1,800,000 of which the Eagles would save if they released or traded him. Kendricks would count for $4,800,000 in dead money. As PhillyVoice reported a few weeks ago, the Eagles are expected to free up significant cap space this offseason.

In five seasons after being selected in the second round of the 2012 draft by the Eagles, Kendricks has compiled 382 tackles, 12 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, 3 interceptions, 20 pass breakups, and 26 tackles for loss.

From 2012 to 2015, Kendricks was a regular starter in the Eagles' defense. However, in his first year under Jim Schwartz, Kendricks was the third linebacker in the Eagles' pecking order, behind Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham, who both played far more snaps.

Eagles LBs Snaps Percentage of snaps 
 Nigel Bradham990  97.1%
 Jordan Hicks971  95.2%
 Mychal Kendricks273  26.8%

Here is how Kendricks' usage in 2016 compares with the rest of his career:

Mychal Kendricks Games played Snaps Percentage of snaps
 201215 (14 starts) 926 88.4% 
 2013 15 (15 starts)991 82.3% 
 2014 12 (11 starts)761 65.7% 
 2015 13 (13 starts)628 51.8% 
 201615 (8 starts) 273 26.8% 

As you can see, Kendricks' percentage of snaps has decreased each year.

Kendricks is not worth the $6,600,000 he'll count against the cap in 2017, however, gaining $1,800,000 under the cap would not be a robust immediate savings for the Eagles. It would also leave the Eagles with a paper-thin group at linebacker.

Another option at the Eagles' disposal is to designate Kendricks as a "June 1st cut." In that scenario, the Eagles would save $5,000,000 (with only $1,600,000 in dead money) in 2017 if they released Kendricks, but that savings would not come until June 1. While that approach would offer added cap relief in 2017, it will affect the future salary cap, as $3,200,000 in dead money would carry over into 2018. In essence, it's a way that teams can delay the impact of a cap hit, but the cap penalties eventually even out. It is not anticipated that the Eagles will opt for this approach, and it is unknown if the Eagles would release Kendricks at all if trade offers unexpectedly did not emerge. 

While Kendricks has been bad at times, he has flashed his athletic ability at other times. Unfortunately for Kendricks, Schwartz was unable to find creative ways to use him to the best of his abilities. For example, in the view of many talent evaluators, Kendricks' best trait as a linebacker is his blitzing ability. In 2016, Kendricks rushed the passer a grand total of just nine times, according to ProFootballFocus.

"You know, he does rush well," Schwartz acknowledged in December when asked why Kendricks doesn't get more blitzing opportunities. "He is a good blitzer. A lot of it has to do with times he's in there. When he was in there when they were in their two tight end packages, a lot of that is max protection. Blitz another guy in max protection, you're going to isolate your corners a little bit more. Every game is a little bit different with him. But he is a good blitzer. When we've been able to get that and complete the coverage behind him, he's been effective there. But he doesn't stand alone. He can have a great pass-rush, and if our matchup is bad outside or we don't cover the guy long enough, that doesn't make a difference."

Using data from ProFootballFocus, we determined that the Eagles blitzed their linebackers, on average, eight times per game in 2016. By comparison, here are how many times the top 10 linebacker-blitzing teams blitzed their non-edge rushing linebackers (4-3 OLBs/ILB, or 3-4 ILBs) per game in 2016:

 TeamLB blitzes per game 

In theory, without considering current linebacker personnel, those teams would make some sense as landing spots for Kendricks, to varying degrees.

The Eagles would not be able to trade Kendricks until the start of the new league year, which will begin at 4:00 p.m. on March 9. No specific indication was given from the source as to what Kendricks could fetch in a trade, but it is our opinion that his value would be a mid- to late-round draft pick.

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