Explaining the Eagles’ Decision to Release Mychal Kendricks
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - We've talked a lot about Mychal Kendricks being a luxury for the Philadelphia Eagles.
If Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham are healthy and playing 16 games, Kendricks simply would not play enough to justify a price tag that was set to count $7.6 million against the cap for a team that had just over $100K of space when it kicked off Phase 3 of OTAs on Tuesday.
Howie Roseman had been preparing for the trade or release of Kendricks and already obtained competent and cheaper depth at the position in free agency by bringing in Corey Nelson and Paul Worrilow, the latter of which is already lost of the season after going down with a torn ACL in his first practice with Philadelphia.
The timing seemed weird to those on the outside because Kendricks' release was not announced until Tuesday afternoon after Worrilow was carted out of the team's practice bubble but that timeframe was only the public's consumption of the events.
Kendricks was spotted leaving the NovaCare Complex before the practice even began, a clear indication the decision was already punctuated.
Furthermore, the Butterfly effect of the Worrilow injury would likely not have changed Kendricks' fate anyway because the Eagles needed the cap space and Worrilow's presence was considered the upgrade behind Hicks in the base defense (think the Joe Walker/Dannell Ellerbe role from last season).
Nelson, 26, was always the guy earmarked to take over Kendricks "starting" spot as the Will LB in the base defense and that part of the equation doesn't change moving forward.
How it works out comes down to the health of Hicks and Bradham. If those two are on the field as the three-down linebackers and Nelson is playing 25 to 30 percent of the defensive snaps at $1.6M for this season, the Eagles will be fine and even better on special teams because Nelson is an excellent coverage player, something Kendricks did not do.
If a similar scenario to what went on in 2017 when Hicks went down with a torn Achilles occurs, Jim Schwartz isn't going to comfortable with Nelson as an every down LB, something Kendricks excelled in when forced into the role.
The larger concern is depth as the Eagles went from extremely deep at the position to paper thin again in a matter of hours with the top backups now being unproven players like Walker, and two former college safeties who have made the transition to the position at the pro level -- special teams stalwart Kamu Krugier-Hill and Nate Gerry.
Veteran LaRoy Reynolds offers some size and experience but has been a special-teams player for most of his career and still rehabbing from a pec injury.
The simple explanation for all of this, however, is that Philadelphia gave up an exceptional insurance policy because it couldn't afford it any longer.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Want more NFL? Check out John's piece on why the comparison between Jared Goff and Mitchell Trubisky needs a little more nuance at GetMoreSports.com.