Chargers Release LB Eric Kendricks

A year after receiving the opportunity to return to Los Angeles, Eric Kendricks is out of a job. The Chargers released the veteran linebacker Tuesday.

In Tom Telesco‘s final offseason as Bolts GM, the team gave Kendricks a two-year, $13.25MM deal. The longtime Vikings starter was set to make $5MM in base salary next season. The Chargers will save $6.5MM by making this cut.

Jim Harbaugh‘s team still has work to do to reach cap compliance; the Kendricks release only moves the Bolts to $19MM over the 2024 cap. The Chargers are also in need of linebacker starters. Kendricks and Kenneth Murray operated as L.A.’s primary ILBs in 2023. Murray is days away from free agency.

A UCLA alum and a Fresno native, Kendricks received a quick opportunity to return to California last year. This marks his second straight offseason as a cap casualty, with the Vikings releasing the former All-Pro in 2023. Considering where the Chargers are cap-wise, it is unsurprising to see them follow suit.

Kendricks, who turned 32 last week, continued his run of solid production by registering 117 tackles (seven for loss) and 3.5 sacks. The former second-round pick added a forced fumble and six passes defensed, also finishing his season as Pro Football Focus’ No. 25 overall linebacker; PFF ranked Murray as one of the NFL’s worst full-time ILBs. The Chargers declined Murray’s fifth-year option in 2023.

It will take more maneuvering for the Chargers to create actual breathing room. Thanks to big contracts and 2023 restructures, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack combine to comprise $142MM on the Chargers’ 2024 cap sheet. Even with the cap spiking to $255.4MM, four players — two of whom over 30 — take up more than half the team’s payroll. Decisions will need to be made involving these cornerstones, with Kendricks more of a role player last season.

Kendricks may be able to generate interest elsewhere as he did in 2023, though his age will begin to work against him. The 2015 draftee has started 127 games during his nine-year career, earning an eight-figure-per-year Vikings extension in 2018. Kendricks started for four playoff-bound Minnesota teams, earning his lone Pro Bowl nod in 2019.

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