In a move to stay under the salary cap, the Vikings let go of veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks. On Monday, the Vikings let go of Kendricks.
The Vikings, who selected Kendricks in the second round of the 2015 draft, have had him for all eight of his NFL seasons. He started all 17 games the previous season and led the team with 137 tackles. Over the course of seven seasons, he has recorded more than one hundred tackles.
“As a Pro Bowler and team captain, a Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, and a leader of the Vikings’ social justice efforts,” general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said in a statement. “Eric leaves a powerful, permanent legacy within our organization and the Minnesota community.” Eric’s contributions to the Vikings go far beyond the field because of his selfless and unwavering dedication to addressing social issues, even though he is best known as a playmaker and well-liked linebacker across the league.
The Vikings will save $9.5 million on their compensation cap with the move. Entering Monday, they were around $24.4 million over the compensation cap, as per OverTheCap.com. The Vikings have until 4 p.m. on March 15 to stay below the $224 million salary cap.
The Vikings are entering their second season of what Adofo-Mensah has referred to as a “competitive rebuild,” and Kendricks’s release is the first step in what is likely to be a significant roster overhaul. Kendricks’ replacement is likely to be linebacker Brian Asamoah, a 2022 third-round pick who the team is interested in.
The majority of the upcoming roster moves by the Vikings will be on the defensive side of the ball. Linebacker Za’Darius Smith’s and safety Harrison Smith’s futures are uncertain, while cornerback Patrick Peterson and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson are pending free agents. If they want to stay with the team in 2023, veteran receiver Adam Thielen and running back Dalvin Cook might also need to change their contracts.
In 117 games (113 starts), Kendricks has 919 tackles and 15 sacks. In addition to being named to his only Pro Bowl in 2019, he was also named to the first-team All-Pro team.
In a statement, Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said, “It is extremely difficult to start more than 100 games in this league, but Eric has been a staple in the locker room since he entered the NFL.” As captain and a member of the leadership council during my first year as head coach, Eric was instrumental in establishing the Minnesota culture we wanted. He consistently served as a mentor to his younger teammates, and his unwavering dedication to his work set an example for others to follow. I am grateful for the opportunity to coach Eric as a player and get to know him personally.
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