4 Replacement Options for Eric Kendricks

The Vikings Will Face Off with Old Friends in 2023
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) during the NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings officially released their veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks on Monday morning, and now, we have to figure out how Minnesota will go about replacing Kendricks this offseason. Here are a few different directions that the Vikings can take at the linebacker position in 2023.

Brian Asamoah

Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

At this point in time, the most obvious “next man up” on the Vikings defense is 2022 third-round pick Brian Asamoah. During his rookie season, he didn’t get much playing time early, but down the stretch of the year, his role progressively grew. During all three games from Weeks 15-17, the rookie played 20 or more defensive snaps.

Asamaoah’s athletic profile and aggressive nature on the defensive side of the ball really makes him an intriguing player at the linebacker spot. Especially in a blitz-heavy Brian Flores defense, he could thrive in 2023. The only problem with him being the Eric Kendricks replacement is that he could end up being the Jordan Hicks replacement if the Vikings opt to move on from him as well.

Trenton Simpson

Oct 2, 2021; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers linebacker Trenton Simpson (22) reacts after an incomplete pass against the Boston College Eagles during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Trenton Simpson is widely considered to be one of the best linebackers in the 2023 Draft class, and if the Vikings stick and pick at No. 23 this April, they could find themselves in a position to land the Clemson Tiger.

Simpson is another very quick linebacker, running a 4.43 40 in last week’s combine. He also has great instincts in pass coverage, making him a compelling replacement for Kendricks.

However, don’t think of him as the only option in this year’s draft. Noah Sewell out of Oregon or Drew Sanders out of Arkansas could be prospects that the Vikings have their eye on during the second day.

Bobby Wagner

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Dec 8, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner (45 celebrates after the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at SoFi Stadium. The Rams defeated the Raiders 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If the Vikings don’t fill their linebacker need in-house or through the draft, then they need to dip into the free agency pool. That is where we will focus our attention for the final two options on this list.

If the Vikings try to get a free agent, they couldn’t do much better than Bobby Wagner on a deal for one or two years. The Super Bowl champion has been a picture of health throughout his career, and despite being 32 years old, he is yet to see a major drop in his production. He has been at least a second-team All-Pro in every season since 2014.

Tremaine Edmunds

Jan 22, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (49) looks on during warmups before an AFC divisional round game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps Wagner is a bit too old for some Vikings fans to warrant giving him a contract. That problem could be solved with a signing of Tremaine Edmunds, who enters free agency at just 24 years old.

Edmunds is another very fast player at the linebacker position, and he has thrived as a pass coverage player over his first five NFL seasons since being drafted in the first round of the 2018 Draft. Recently, our own Kyle Joudry coined Edmunds as his sixth-favorite free agent for the Vikings this offseason.

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.