Eric Kendricks represents an instant problem-solver for Commanders

(Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports) Eric Kendricks
(Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports) Eric Kendricks /

Eric Kendricks and the Minnesota Vikings have gone their separate ways before free agency, but could he become a target for the Washington Commanders?

The Washington Commanders and others around the league are currently forming their roster plans ahead of free agency. The NFL Scouting Combine concluded and the dominos started dropping, which began on Monday with the notable but widely anticipated release of All-Pro linebacker Eric Kendricks.

This should catch the eye of teams looking for immediate assistance at the defensive second level. The Commanders fall into that particular category despite Ron Rivera stating recently he’d like to get a deal worked out with Cole Holcomb, who showed promise in 2022 before his season was cruelly cut short by injury.

The Minnesota Vikings are up against it financially this offseason. Releasing Kendricks saves them $9.5 million against their cap, but the former first-round pick left with a glowing reference from general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in recognition of his exceptional efforts on and off the field.

"“As a Pro Bowler and team captain, a Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee and a leader of the Vikings social justice efforts, Eric (Kendricks) leaves a powerful, permanent legacy within our organization and the Minnesota community. While he is best known as a playmaker and respected linebacker across the league, Eric’s contributions to the Vikings extend far beyond the field. I have the utmost respect for Eric and wish him and Ally, along with their growing family, continued success in their next chapter.”"

Commanders would benefit from Eric Kendricks’ experience in 2023

Kendricks had a down year in 2022 by his usual high standards. However, it deserves some context attached.

Minnesota’s switch to a 3-4 base scheme under Ed Donatell was a disaster. This just didn’t suit the personnel assembled and although there was a lot to like about their edge-rushing tandem of Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith, other established figures suffered as the Vikings boasted one of the league’s worst units in many statistical categories.

There were some deficiencies in coverage for Kendricks and the UCLA product isn’t getting any younger. However, considering what’s at stake for the Commanders next season, it might be worth getting a veteran to solidify the linebacking corps and provide the right pre-snap communication at an important time.

Kendricks might have fallen off slightly, but his leadership and football IQ remain significant assets to call upon. Much will depend on how much the player wants on his next deal – which might be his last lucrative opportunity – but it’s certainly an option for Washington if they decide to go down the experienced route rather than an exciting prospect from the college ranks.

This won’t be the last major star to be sacrificed before the free-agent madness begins. The Commanders themselves have some vital upcoming decisions to make before identifying potential acquisitions next week.

It’s one for the shortlist. And there’s just no telling what a proven performer like Kendricks could do for the likes of Jamin Davis’ development along the way.

Nothing is off the table at this time of year. By the looks of how things are currently unfolding, there will be plenty of twists and turns to come.

The benefits of adding Kendricks are obvious. Whether it’s something the Commanders can pull off is another matter.

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