Vikings LB Eric Kendricks Makes “All-Roster-Bubble Team”

Eric Kendricks
Jun 11, 2019; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) speaks with outside linebacker Anthony Barr (55) during practice at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings are in an interesting situation regarding their linebacker position. They have a promising young prospect waiting in the wings in 2022 third-round pick Brian Asamoah, but Vikings LB Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks took the majority of the snaps during the year.

Regardless, because of the overall poor defensive showing during that 2022 season, there seemingly is nobody that is safe in their starting role heading into 2023, especially the defenders that are over the age of 30. As a result, Kendricks has to be considered a player on the Vikings “roster bubble”, and Spotrac’s Michael Ginnitti recognized this in his “All-Roster-Bubble Team” as free agency approaches.

Ginnitti named Kendricks the linebacker of this group, writing, “He can still fill up a stat-line with the best of them, but the Vikings need to begin the process of getting younger (and subsequently cheaper) especially on the defensive side of the ball. Kendricks’ expiring contract can open up $9.5M of much needed cap space for Minnesota, who may address this position fairly early in the April draft.”

Vikings LB Eric Kendricks
Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s very true that the Vikings need to find a way to free up more cap space ahead of free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft. Currently, according to Over the Cap, the Vikings sit $24.4 million over the 2023 salary cap, the third-worst cap situation in the NFL ahead of only the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

By cutting Kendricks, Minnesota could lower their cap number to about $15 million, a very manageable amount. However, if the Vikings get rid of Kendricks they run the risk of losing a major piece of their veteran leadership on that side of the ball.

There is a very real possibility that the problems at the linebacker position lay more with Ed Donatell’s scheme and less with Kendricks’ remaining ability as a player. Brian Flores, a blitz-heavy defensive play-caller, could revitalize the 31-year-old by playing more to his strengths.

Oct 17, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive back Kris Boyd (29) reacts with middle linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Additionally, our very own Kyle Joudry recently drew up a possibility for the Vikings to save upwards of $22.5 million without doing anything with Kendricks’ contract. Granted, Minnesota needs to do much more than that to just become cap compliant if they hope to sign any big name free agents, but there are multiple routes towards doing this.

However, when asked about the Vikings linebackers during his NFL combine press conference, GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah spent time talking about the trio of Brian Asamoah, Troy Dye, and William Kwenkeu. However, he interestingly left both Hicks and Kendricks out of the discussion.

Jun 7, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) and linebacker Troy Dye (45) warm up during mandatory mini camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps this is nothing, but it certainly won’t quell any rumors that the Vikings could be moving on from their veteran linebackers this offseason. And, as Ginnitti points out, the Vikings could look to find another replacement for them in this year’s draft whether that be Clemson LB Trenton Simpson in the first round or someone like Arkansas LB Drew Sanders or Iowa LB Jack Campbell later on in the draft.

Regardless, the linebacker position is going to be one that we have to pay attention to throughout the offseason. Free agency gets started in two weeks on March 15th.

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 can often be found running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.