The Cleveland Browns are top heavy at linebacker and depth is a major concern, which is why former Eagles’ LB Mychal Kendricks is worth a look.
On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Eagles parted ways with veteran linebacker Mychal Kendricks. A second-round pick in 2012, Kendricks never quite reached his potential with the Eagles, and as he was owed $7.6 million this season, Philly decided to move on.
But just because Philadelphia did not think Kendricks was worth his contract doesn’t mean he is a bad player. In 13 starts last season, Kendricks made 55 tackles and broke up six passes. Pro Football Focus ranked Kendricks as the ninth-best linebacker in the NFL. He is not a flashy player, but he won’t make many mistakes.
The Browns run a 4-3 defense, so they employ one middle linebacker and two outside linebackers at a time. Christian Kirksey and Jamie Collins are two of the best in the league, but Joe Schobert is considered the weak link, which is odd, as he made the Pro Bowl last year in just his second season.
Behind those three, however, the Browns don’t have much depth. Rookie Genard Avery should be a great addition either in the middle or outside, but James Burgess and Tank Carder are career special-teamers.
Once Collins tore his ACL against Detroit and Burgess became the starter, the Browns defense as a whole suffered greatly.
By signing Kendricks, the Browns would protect against a possible injury. Kendricks could even overtake Schobert for the starting position.
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But even if he didn’t, if any of the three starters were to be injured, Kendricks could fill in and the defense wouldn’t miss a beat.
In certain situations, the Browns could play all four of their starting-caliber linebackers, most likely in a coverage scenario where more defenders are needed to prevent a first down through the air.
Kendricks will most likely be seeking a short-term “prove it” deal, where he can sign with a team for one or two seasons at a reduced rate, and then, once that contract is up, he can sign a bigger contract due to his play.
Even if Kendricks is demanding a decent amount, the Browns still have $68 million in cap space, and aren’t going to be spending it on anything else this season.
You can never have too much depth, and at a position as crucial as linebacker, this is definitely the case.
The Browns know first-hand how devastating it can be to lose one of your linebackers to injury, and signing Mychal Kendricks could both improve the starting unit and make sure that the team would still be able to compete in the unfortunate event of another injury.