Adhering to general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s “competitive rebuild” philosophy, the Minnesota Vikings are nearing an offseason of apparent roster upheaval, with a handful of longtime players likely exiting the franchise or accepting pay reductions.
The Vikings finished 13-4 in head coach Kevin O’Connell’s first season but flopped at home in the first round of the playoffs. The New York Giants beat the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium, 31-24, last weekend.
1 Vikings Offseason Theory Keeps Popping Up
And amid the offseason of change, one theory keeps popping up — the probable departure of Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks.
While Kendricks is not “guaranteed” to leave, the UCLA alumnus is a fashionable pick by national media as a Vikings cap casualty in the coming months. ESPN authored an article this week about every team’s hypothetical offseason plan, and for the Vikings, the path forward involves cutting ties with both off-ball linebackers, Kendricks and teammate Jordan Hicks.
ESPN’s Aaron Schatz explained the prediction, “The Vikings will cut veteran linebackers Kendricks and Jordan Hicks to clear cap room to give Jefferson a Tyreek Hill-level contract extension.”
Schatz added, “The Vikings are $6 million in the cap hole for 2023, so they’ll need to make room if they want to make Jefferson extra happy with an early extension.”
The NFL media machine didn’t stop there. Bleacher Report echoed the ESPN sentiment with a similar prediction. BR’s Kristopher Knox provided a three-part plan to “fix the Vikings” this offseason, and right off the bat, he mentioned releasing Kendricks, “It’s never easy to part with a longtime fan favorite, but moving on from linebacker Eric Kendricks is something Minnesota must at least consider this offseason.”
Knox elaborated, “Minnesota desperately needs to overhaul its defense, and it won’t be able to do that through the draft alone. Again, this would be a tough change to make, but parting with Kendricks and adding fresh talent to the defense is the right move for Minnesota.”
Kendrick’s cap number in 2023 is $11.43 million, but Adofo-Mensah can save $9.5 million against the cap while enduring a smallish $1.93 dead cap hit if the 30-year-old is released. In that vein, Kendricks seems like the number-one-with-a-bullet candidate for the Vikings cap-saving maneuvers.
This is Kendricks’ career resume via Pro Football Focus:
- 2015 = 59.2
- 2016 = 68.9
- 2017 = 65.5
- 2018 = 64.5
- 2019 = 90.2
- 2020 = 82.6
- 2021 = 59.2
- 2022 = 61.1
If the talking heads were correct about Kendricks’ exodus, 2022 rookie Brian Asamoah could be asked to start in 2023. Otherwise, free agency begins on March 15th, and the NFL Draft on April 27th.
Kendricks will turn 31 at the end of February.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).