Eric Kendricks

Extra Points: Kendricks, Eagles, McCain, Seahawks

Mychal Kendricks visited with the Vikings earlier today. While the free agent left without an offer, it sounds like he’d certainly welcome playing in Minnesota. After all, it’d provide the linebacker with an opportunity to play with his brother, Eric Kendricks.

“Oh, man, it’d be a dream come true. I’d be awesome. That’s my best friend,” the former Eagles defender told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). “To strive for a championship (with Eric) would be awesome…Playing with my bro would be cool, and it’s a rare opportunity.’’

Predictably, Kendricks indicated that his brother is putting on the full-court press when it comes to recruiting.

“He’s doing all that he can,” Kendricks said (Twitter link). “He’s let me know what the team’s all about…But he knows in the end I’m going to make my decision based off the things that are presented to me.’’

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the league…

  • Kendricks, who was released by the Eagles last week, said he wasn’t surprised by the transaction. “I didn’t ask to be released but I asked for a trade a year prior to this,” he told Tomasson (via Twitter). “[S]o, yeah, I’m trying to be in a situation where I can play big role and really contribute.’’
  • Dolphins‘ cornerback Bobby McCain had a breakout campaign in 2017, rating out as one of Pro Football Focus’ top players at the position. The former fifth-rounder finished the campaign having compiled 48 tackles, one sack, seven passes defended, and two interceptions. After such a productive season, reporters naturally asked the 24-year-old if he’s been approached about an extension. “I mean, I um, I mean I…” McCain stammered (via Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald). “No, I’m just going out and trying to play my best ball.” The defensive back is an impending free agent, but the Dolphins currently have little money to work with… until this weekend, when the team will free up $17MM in cap space due to the Ndamukong Suh move.
  • For what it’s worth, it sounds like McCain is more focused on helping his team succeed. “It’s a contract year,” McCain said. “There’s no secret at the end of the day, but me personally, I think just go out and play. If you go out and play ball, it will end up well for you at the end of the day. You win ballgames, everybody gets paid. Period. That’s just how it is. You go out, take a team to the playoffs, go deep in the playoffs, go to the Super Bowl, everybody gets paid.”
  • Players are starting to get used to Seahawks new offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer. It’s the first time for many of these players (including Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin) playing under a new coordinator, but the offensive standouts are excited for the opportunity. “It has been a change, obviously,” Baldwin told John Boyle of Seahawks.com. “We’re excited about it though. There’s two ways you can go with the unknown: you can be fearful of it or you can be excited about it. With a lot of new faces, the young guys, a new system, a new, different energy, we’re excited about it. We’ve got an opportunity to put something special together again—I don’t want to say starting over—but kind of reloading if you will. It’s an exciting time for us.”

Vikings Sign Eric Kendricks To Extension

The Vikings have signed linebacker Eric Kendricks to a contract extension, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). It’s a five-year, $50MM deal with $25MM guaranteed. 

Kendricks, a product of the 2015 draft, was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract. Because he was a second round pick, the Vikings did not have the option of extending him via the fifth-year option.

The linebacker earned his big money deal after leading the Vikings in tackles in each of his first three seasons. In total, he has racked up 314 regular season tackles, plus 24 in the postseason. Last year, he set a new career high with 113 tackles and played on 1,099 snaps which was good for seventh amongst all linebackers in the NFL.

Kendricks’ work against the pass has helped the Vikings bottle up opposing tight ends as well as pass-catching running backs. Last year, the Vikings D allowed the fewest passing yards to opposing tailbacks in the league. Meanwhile, Football Outsiders had them ranked as the top overall defense in the NFL.

The Vikings have several defensive stars locked up with cornerback Xavier Rhodes, safety Harrison Smith, defensive end Everson Griffen, defensive tackle Linval Joseph, and Kendricks under contract for multiple seasons. There’s still some work to be done, however, with linebacker Anthony Barr and edge rusher Danielle Hunter on the agenda.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings, Xavier Rhodes Close On Extension

The Vikings are close to finalizing an extension with cornerback Xavier Rhodes, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

A source informed Tomasson the deal is expected to be in the five-year, $70MM vicinity. That would tie Rhodes to the Vikings through the 2022 season. The cornerback is set to make just more than $8MM on a fifth-year option this season.

We heard earlier this week the Vikings made a “nice offer” to the 27-year-old cornerback, who is entering his contract year. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reported the team is willing to make him one of the league’s highest-paid corners.

An assistant coach at Florida State during Rhodes’ time there and a former NFL corner, Terrell Buckley serves as a mentor to Rhodes. He told Tomasson there was a “high probability” Rhodes will sign an extension by the end of the week but is attempting to get a couple of things “squared away” with this Vikes proposal. Buckley added Rhodes “loves” playing for Mike Zimmer and secondary coach Jerry Gray, further pointing to a long Rhodes stay in Minneapolis.

At $14MM annually, that would match Rhodes with Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson as the third-highest-paid corner. Only Josh Norman makes more than that annually, although Trumaine Johnson‘s franchise tag ($16.742MM) has him as the league’s highest-paid corner for 2017.

In addition to Rhodes, the Vikings want to lock down key members of their defense, Tomasson reports. They are internally discussing extensions for Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Linval Joseph, per Tomasson. The team just signed Everson Griffen to a $57.9MM extension.

The Vikings rode their defense to a dominant start in 2016, jumping out to a 5-0 mark. Minnesota finished third defensively last season. Barr became extension-eligible after last season, but Kendricks — as a 2015 second-round pick — isn’t yet allowed to sign one until after this season. Joseph has delivered dominant football to the Vikings after they signed him as a UFA from the Giants. He has two years remaining on the five-year, $31.25MM deal he signed in 2014. Joseph is set to make $6.85MM in each of the next two seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Vikings, Pettigrew, Browns

The Vikings intend to begin the Sam Bradford era on Sunday night, with the team set to displace Shaun Hill in the starting lineup and plug in the trade acquisition against the Packers, Ben Goessling of ESPN.com reports. A league source informed Goessling Bradford took each of the first-team snaps in practice this week.

Minnesota traded next year’s first-round pick and another selection that could rise to future second-rounder for the former No. 1 overall pick. The 28-year-old Bradford completed a career-best 65% of his passes for the Eagles in 2015, but when separated from Chip Kelly‘s offense, the ex-Heisman Trophy winner has never exceeded the 61% mark.

Hill guided the Vikings to a victory against the Titans but did not produce an offensive touchdown in Minnesota’s 25-16 road win. Bradford’s potential inability to make pre-snap adjustments after such a short time with the team played into Hill receiving the Week 1 nod, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes.

Here’s more from the NFC North as Week 2 Sunday nears.

  • Former Vikings scouting director Scott Studwell, who remains with the team in a different capacity after stepping down from that role two years ago, said the team was able to acquire middle linebacker Eric Kendricks in the second round last year due to the second-year player’s smaller stature. “Kendricks went in the second round because he’s 6-foot,” Studwell said, via Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “In a perfect world, you might want a ‘Mike’ a bit bigger with Eric, but with his instincts for the ball, we’re not complaining. He’s a playmaker.” 
  • The Lions currently have Brandon Pettigrew on their PUP list but could opt to move on from the veteran tight end if they like what they see from current backup Cole Wick, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. Pettigrew tore his left ACL last December and reworked his contract due to his PUP standing earlier this month. He’s under contract through 2017 thanks to the four-year, $16MM deal he signed in 2014.
  • A potential BrownsJimmy Garoppolo union had big support from inside the franchise’s power structure in 2014 before Jimmy Haslam ordered the staff to select Johnny Manziel, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports. Volin, who notes the Browns studied the eventual second-round pick intensely, wonders if the new Browns’ brass would consider a Garoppolo trade after Tom Brady‘s suspension ends. The teams play in Week 5 in Cleveland, although the trade deadline doesn’t fall until November 1. A report earlier this week described third-round rookie Cody Kessler as being a ways away from being ready to contribute.
  • The Bengals’ cornerback corps is flush with high draft picks, and the team added another in 2016 third-rounder KeiVarae Russell off waivers from the Chiefs.

Vikings Sign Entire Draft Class

Well, that was pretty easy for the Vikings. While most teams tend to sign their draft choices in drips and drabs, the Vikings announced that they have signed their entire 2015 draft class. Those ten rookies are:

  • Round 1, CB Trae Waynes
  • Round 2: LB Eric Kendricks
  • Round 3: DE Danielle Hunter
  • Round 4: OL T.J. Clemmings
  • Round 5: TE Mycol Pruitt
  • Round 5: WR Stefon Diggs
  • Round 6: OL Tyrus Thompson
  • Round 6: DL B.J. Dubose
  • Round 7: OL Austin Shepherd
  • Round 7: LB Edmond Robinson

The signing of Waynes was leaked out earlier today by Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. The eleventh player selected in the 2015 draft, Waynes will earn nearly $13MM over the life of his rookie contract, and will have the opportunity to make several extra million in 2019 if Minnesota exercises his fifth-year option. Because he just missed the cutoff to be a top-10 pick, Waynes’ fifth year won’t be as pricey as it otherwise would’ve — those amounts aren’t known yet, but for 2016 options, the difference in salaries between a top-10 cornerback and a corner picked between 11th and 32nd exceeded $3.5MM.

Kendricks was last season’s Butkus Award winner, giving him the crown of best collegiate linebacker in the country. Kendricks’ brother, Mychal, plays for the Eagles and father Marvin Kendricks, played running back at UCLA and enjoyed a stint in the CFL.

With ten UDFAs also in the fold, the Vikings’ roster is now at 90 players, according to the press release.

Vikings, Eric Kendricks Agree To Deal

The Vikings continue to lock up 2015 draftees today, reaching an agreement with their second-round pick, per Darren Wolfson of KSTP (Twitter link). Wolfson reports that linebacker Eric Kendricks has agreed to terms with Minnesota.

Kendricks, a former UCLA Bruin, was selected 45th overall last week by the Vikings. That draft slot means he’ll be in line for a four-year contract of about $5.156MM, with a signing bonus of almost exactly $2MM. Unlike Trae Waynes, who signed his rookie contract with the Vikings earlier today, Kendricks’ deal doesn’t include a fifth-year option, so he’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agency after the 2018 season.

Minnesota now has three of its 10 draft picks in the fold, having also agreed to terms with sixth-round offensive lineman Tyrus Thompson today.

Vikings Rumors: Smith, Kalil, Kendricks

The Vikings are going down to the wire in announcing their decision on whether or not to pick up the fifth-year options for Harrison Smith and Matt Kalil. GM Rick Spielman will announce those moves Monday, reports ESPN’s Ben Goessling on Twitter.

Today was initially the deadline for teams to decide on whether or not to extend their 2012 first-round picks, but since it fell on a Sunday, teams now have until midnight tomorrow to make those calls. Goessling noted he doesn’t expect drama with either decision, with Smith’s fifth year in Minneapolis certainly forthcoming.

Kalil’s option, which would cost $11.096MM, won’t be as easy of a decision. A late first-rounder in 2012, Smith’s become one of the league’s better safeties, while Kalil has regressed considerably since a promising rookie campaign, bottoming out last season with a Pro Football Focus ranking (subscription required) of 81st among 84 graded tackles.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune reporter Mark Craig expects Kalil’s option to be picked up (Twitter link).

Some other rumors coming out of Minnesota on Sunday night …

  • Beyond first-round cornerback Trae Waynes, the Vikings expect multiple-position availability from their draft picks, reports Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Chief among the potential versatile draftees are second-rounder Eric Kendricks (middle and weakside linebacker), third-rounder Danielle Hunter (multiple defensive line positions) and fourth-rounder T.J. Clemmings (left and right tackle), according to Tomasson.
  • The Vikings not drafting a safety is a vote of confidence for 2014 sixth-rounder Antone Exum, reports Tomasson. Spielman noted to Tomasson he’s “excited about” Exum’s progress despite the second-year safety only playing 16 snaps last season behind Smith and Robert Blanton, who both graded out positively last season on Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics.
  • Also from Tomasson: the Vikings will slot former Alabama tackle Austin Shepherd at guard, where he played at the Senior Bowl. The 6-foot-5 rookie said half of the teams he spoke to before the draft sought him at tackle, with the other half preferring to see how he can transition to guard.
  • Kendricks will be the Vikings rookie that flashes most this season, writes Matt Vensel of the Star-Tribune. Kendricks’ coverage ability stood out to draft experts, and Vensel notes the ex-UCLA backer has a good chance of starting Week 1 between Chad Greenway and Anthony BarrWaynes could have to open the season behind either Captain Munnerlyn or Terence Newman.
  • Former Vikings offensive line coach Jim Hueber was surprised Clemmings, who he coached at Pittsburgh, made it to Day 3 without finding an employer, viewing the former college defensive lineman and standout basketball player as a steal, per Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

First-Round Rumors: Titans, Mariota, Rams

The Titans‘ No. 2 overall pick appears to be the hottest trade chip on the market today, and Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean (Twitter link) hears that the club has spoken to the Rams and the Jets, in addition to the Browns and Eagles. According to ESPN’s Bob Holtzman, the Titans are “open for business” when it comes to trading the second overall pick, but the team is using the Robert Griffin III trade as a point of reference, which would mean getting three first-rounders for the No. 2 pick.

Multiple reporters, including Jay Glazer of Fox Sports and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links), are suggesting that the Titans’ asking price is massive. Rapoport points out that Tennessee is seeking such a huge return that it’s making rival teams think the Titans just want to draft Marcus Mariota and be done with it.

As we wait to see what the Titans will do with their pick, let’s check in on a few more first-round rumors…

  • Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net (on Twitter) hears from multiple sources that UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks is in the mix for the Cardinals in round one.
  • The Rams‘ discussions with the Titans haven’t amounted to anything “meaningful” at this point, tweets Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Meanwhile, Albert Breer of the NFL Network (Twitter link) hears that the Rams may be looking at bailing out of the top 10 and picking up more picks. The Jets and Washington have also been cited as potential trade-down candidates in the top 10.
  • Browns coach Mike Pettine told NFL Network’s Andrea Kremer that “opinions on Marcus Mariota in this building are varied,” according to Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer (via Twitter). Cabot notes (link) that opinions on Johnny Manziel inside the building were varied too, but that didn’t stop the Browns from drafting him in 2014. She also hears that the Browns do not want to surrender their first-rounder in 2016 to land the Oregon quarterback (link).
  • A big problem for the Browns in any potential trade involving Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford is that he may not negotiate a long-term deal anytime soon with the Browns, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets. Bradford may prefer to be dealt to the Titans and, presumably, would be more open to a long-term deal there.
  • In the event that the Browns acquire Sam Bradford or another quarterback, the Cowboys will not be interested in trading for Johnny Manziel to replace Brandon Weeden, Ed Werder of ESPN.com tweets.
  • NFL.com’s Michael Silver says that the Jaguars are a team to keep an eye on as they could move their high second round choice to get back into the back third of the first round.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

King’s Latest: Bucs, Mariota, Cowboys, Pats

Before answering readers’ questions in his weekly mailbag this week, Peter King of TheMMQB.com passed along a number of the latest draft rumors he’s hearing with the first round just one day away. Let’s dive in and round up the highlights….

  • The Buccaneers have yet to receive a trade offer that “would come close” to making them decide to move down from No. 1.
  • The Titans, Buccaneers, and Jaguars have all inquired with teams picking late in the first round about moving up from the second round, says King. The three teams have the first, second, and fourth picks, respectively, in round two.
  • One GM told King that while the Titans still look like the favorites to end up with Marcus Mariota, he wouldn’t be shocked if Cleveland “trades the farm” to land the Oregon quarterback. The thinking is that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is sick of the merry-go-round at the position, and would like to land a “squeaky-clean” signal-caller to lead the franchise.
  • The Cowboys would love to see running back Melvin Gordon fall to them at No. 27, but two other names to watch are linebackers Eric Kendricks (UCLA) and Benardrick McKinney (Mississippi State).
  • One team considering drafting a tackle in the first round is debating whether or not LSU’s La’el Collins will be on its draft board on Thursday night. While King acknowledges that this may be unfair, he explains the club’s thinking: “How can you draft a guy who’s being sought in connection with the death of a woman, even if police are saying now he isn’t a suspect? He needs to be exonerated by Thursday.”
  • The Patriots like USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who looks like a logical target for the club if he’s still available at No. 32.
  • With the 21st overall pick, the Bengals are considering Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, who had ACL surgery in January. King views this is a sign that teams are willing to wait on a prospect who wouldn’t be healthy enough to contribute immediately if they think he can be a premier player in the long term.

Pauline On Gurley, Bengals, McKinney, RBs

After his citation for marijuana possession, the expectation is that Missouri linebacker Shane Ray could fall out of the first round and that’s an opinion shared by many in his camp, Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net writes. Earlier today, we learned that teams that wouldn’t have had a chance to land Ray before are now inquiring on him, with both GMs and owners doing their homework. Here’s Pauline’s latest:

  • The Dolphins are hoping that Todd Gurley doesn’t get selected in the top 10. If the running back is still on the board, Miami will happily snag him at No. 14, per Pauline.
  • As of now, there’s a very good chance the Bengals take an offensive tackle in round one and they’re said to be looking at Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi, among others.
  • Linebacker Benardrick McKinney spent an extensive amount of time the past few days talking with the Broncos and Cowboys. If Kevin Johnson is unavailable when the Cowboys are on the clock in round one, they will strongly consider either McKinney or Eric Kendricks, Pauline hears.
  • There’s a good possibility that Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is still available when the third round begins. While teams like his film and cover skills, his knee injury from last December has some clubs concerned. Recently, PFR’s Rob DiRe wrote that he expected Ekpre-Olomu to experience a dropoff in draft stock from last year to this year, but not this severe. Had he gone pro last season, the Oregon notable may have had a chance to be a first-round pick.
  • There are a number of running back-needy teams who might wait until the fourth round before drafting at the position, due to the quality and depth available this year. David Cobb and Buck Allen have been brought to Pauline’s attention as fourth round types that can contribute off the bat and Miami junior Duke Johnson is also getting buzz.
  • Alonzo Highsmith, senior personnel director for the Packers, is pushing hard for Denzel Perryman at the bottom of round one. If Green Bay takes the Miami notable, the team would then push Clay Matthews to the outside. The belief is Green Bay still values a cornerback with that first pick and Eric Rowe continues to be in the mix, but Perryman is also a possibility.
  • Don’t be surprised if tight end Wes Saxton is drafted much earlier than presently predicted, as teams are high on his speed and athleticism. Saxton, a South Alabama product, could go as high as the fourth round. Notre Dame tight end Ben Koyack is also getting additional attention.