Eric Kendricks has indeed been cut by the Minnesota Vikings, so should the Detroit Lions have interest in him?
If anyone were to have made a list of potential cap casualties from elsewhere in the NFC North who could be of interest to the Detroit Lions last week, Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks would have been on the list. Perhaps No. 1 even.
Indeed, on Monday morning according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and confirmed by the team, the Vikings released Kendricks. They clear $9.5 million in much-needed cap space with the move, and the veteran linebacker gets a head start on free agency.
Kendricks spent eight seasons with the Vikings after being a second-round pick in 2015. He has at least 108 total tackles in seven straight seasons, with a Pro Bowl nod and an All-Pro selection in 2019. He set a career-high with 143 tackles in 2021, and followed with 137 tackles last season.
Detroit Lions rumors: Should there be any interest in Eric Kendricks?
The Vikings’ defense has become awful over the last couple seasons, but it’s hard to pin a lot of blame for that on Kendricks. He dropped from five sacks in 2021 to just one last season, but now former defensive coordinator Ed Donatell notably hardly blitzed, instead content to sit back and be picked apart.
That said, Hendricks has had a recent drop off as a coverage linebacker. After posting a 58.8 passer rating against in 2020, according to Pro Football Reference, opposing passers have a rating over 100 against him in each of the last two seasons. His missed tackle rate has not been too good, for as long as it has been tracked, but it was 9.5 percent in 2021 and 8.1 percent last season.
So is Kendricks’ drop-off in a couple areas the last couple seasons due to an erosion of his skills as he crosses into his 30s? Or a drop-off in the talent around him? Or bad defensive scheming, as Mike Zimmer and Donatell couldn’t get it done? Someone will be willing to find out. He’s been too good a player not to have plenty of suitors.
The Lions should be looking at options to replace/upgrade from free agent linebacker Alex Anzalone. Some don’t make a lot of sense, while others make a lot more sense.
Kendricks should be added to the list of options to replace Anzalone that make some sense for the Lions. They’ve gotten a close look at him the last two seasons. So in anticipation of his likely being cut, since it wasn’t a big secret, they may have already been forming an evaluation and considering if they’d pursue him or not.