Vikings Release Former All-Pro LB Eric Kendricks

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The first domino of the Minnesota Vikings offseason has officially fallen. In an attempt to clear up salary cap space ahead of free agency next week, the Vikings have officially released their longtime starter and former All-Pro LB Eric Kendricks as announced by the team on Monday morning.

Kendricks was selected in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Vikings, and almost immediately, he became a crucial part of their defensive scheme. Over his eight seasons in Minnesota, Kendricks started 113 games for the Vikings, recording 919 tackles, 54 TFLs, 15 sacks, 51 PDs, 9 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles, and 6 fumble recoveries.

For his efforts in 2019, Kendricks was named a first-team All-Pro during that season as he helped the Vikings to a 10-6 record as they allowed the fifth fewest points in the league that season.

Vikings Release Former All-Pro LB Eric Kendricks
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Camryn Bynum (24) and linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) and linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) react after New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios (10) drops a touchdown pass late during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Since then, Kendricks remained a solid starter in Minnesota, but especially during 2022, he certainly took a step back in his performance. Considering the Vikings have to free up over $24 million in cap space in order to become cap compliant by free agency, and Kendricks was due $11.43 million in 2023, his name was often one to come up as a potential cap casualty.

By releasing Kendricks, the Vikings are able to free up $9.5 million in cap space, moving them to right around $15 million over the cap. They still have some work to do in order to become compliant with the salary cap, but they are much closer now.

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Dec 16, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr (55) celebrates with linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) during the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

This move also opens the door to 2022 third-round pick Brian Asamoah to potentially take over a starting role next season. Asamoah didn’t see many snaps on the defense early in the season, but his time on the field certainly increased as the season progressed.

There is also the potential of Minnesota drafting a linebacker with one of their top picks in the 2023 Draft. Prospects like Trenton Simpson, Noah Sewell, and Drew Sanders have been connected to Minnesota and could step in to fill Kendricks’ role.

Free agency officially gets started on March 15th with the legal tampering period beginning on March 13th.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken