The Cleveland Browns have finally signed linebacker Mychal Kendricks to a 1-year deal reported to be worth around the $3.5 million mark. Well, at least I think they have. The whole process has seemed to be a little bizarre really. Ian Rapoport broke the news that the deal was done via Twitter with:
Sources: The #Browns are signing free agent LB Mychal Kendricks to a 1-year deal, bolstering their linebacking group late in the offseason. Along with Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey, it could be one of the most talented in football.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) 3 June 2018
This Tweet was quickly followed by a stroppy Mychal Kendricks reply of:
You will never have my respect
— Mychal Kendricks (@MychalKendricks) 3 June 2018
Seems like Kendricks went a little overboard with his attitude to news being broken that has turned out to be 100% correct. At the time, no one knew for sure if the deal had actually been done and whether it was going to be. Kendricks went on to say that he hadn’t signed with the Browns at all.
I still haven’t seen anything official announced about him signing with the Cleveland Browns and have only seen a few reporters of different outlets reporting the news about the deal. This is why I say that I “think” he’s signed.
His attitude towards Ian Rapoport doing his job and announcing the news shouldn’t have any effect on my opinion of him and his addition to the team, but I’m afraid it does. I just don’t get the attitude, especially when the news was true. Maybe it was he who wanted to break the news and he wasn’t too pleased about having his thunder stolen. I could understand it if he hadn’t and wasn’t going to sign but he did and was going to.
Anyway, all I’m saying is that this kind of attitude reminds me of a spoilt little kid having a strop because he’s in a mood. Maybe it’s a leap but the thing that popped into my head was that now he’s won a Super Bowl ring he thinks he’s done it all and is at a stage where he can just see out his career rinsing a few more franchises for as much money as he can whilst doing just enough to stay relevant (and to avoid serious injury).
Like I say, maybe I’m reading far too much into all this (and, hey, what do I know, I’m just a fan) but I’m certainly not as excited about his signing now as I initially was. Along with Jamie Collins, I get the feeling we could now have two players in the linebackers room who have had their football career big paydays and are just going through the motions.
Or, maybe things weren’t to Kendricks’ liking in Philly and he’s glad to be out of there and maybe he just has a badass kinda attitude/personality?
Who is Mychal Kendricks
Mychal Kendricks comes to the Cleveland Browns as a versatile linebacker who has played both in the middle and on the outside in both 3-4 and 4-3 defences under different coaches.
He entered the league via the NFL draft and was selected in the 2nd-round (46th overall) in 2012 by the Philadelphia Eagles and won the starting strongside linebacker job in their 4-3 defence in his first year. This is the position Jamie Collins has been playing for the Browns and makes me wonder if Kendricks will end up playing there again for us.
When Chip Kelly came in as the Eagles head coach, he changed the defence to a 3-4 from the 4-3 they were used to. This base formation requires two linebackers on the inside and so Kendricks was moved to one of those spots from the more outside position he’d played under Andy Reid.
He’s also played at the weakside linebacker (the position held by Christian Kirksey for the Browns) when the Eagles reverted back to a 4-3 package under Doug Pederson/Jim Schwartz. You could say that he’s played both inside and outside at the linebacker position and adds great depth to the unit. The thing is, though, he’s not been brought in to merely add depth, he’s been brought in to be a starter at the linebacker position.
He actually requested to be traded away from the Eagles before their Super Bowl-winning season as he was being taken out of the formation on passing downs and so his playing time was being reduced. He didn’t like this and wanted out of the team. I’m not sure if this smacks of spoilt little kid syndrome or of a guy hungry to play the game of football. I seriously hope it’s the latter. This again, though, causes me to be a little confused as to his decision to sign with the Browns. The Eagles were going to a 2-linebacker formation a lot under Pederson and stacking the line and Kendricks was the linebacker being sacrificed in order to get that extra defensive lineman in, right? The Cleveland Browns run a 2-linebacker formation a lot (as do most teams in today’s game) and we have both Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey playing a good game in that package. So, who gets sacrificed now that the team has three good players for that role? Obviously, they should all play a part and rotate, but with apparent egos and contract sizes being what they are?
I wouldn’t say that Mychal Kendricks is injury-prone but he has had his fair share of them and has missed some time. A quick look at his injury history shows that his calves and hamstrings haven’t treated him as well as they could have in the past.
Before visiting the Cleveland Browns to discuss a possible deal, Kendricks visited both the Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders. I’m surprised he made it out of both those cities and made it to Cleveland without an offer but I suspect it’s because neither of those teams could/would offer him a starting role. It appears from reports that the Browns have told him he will be a starting linebacker with them and this could indeed be what has tipped the balance in their favour and made him sign. If this is the case, I love it. It shows that everything I’ve said and thought about him so far is wrong. It shows that he’s still hungry to play and wants to win on an up-and-coming team that’s getting stacked with quality young players and players in their prime. Only time will tell and show us which Mychal Kendricks the Cleveland Browns have signed for the 2018 NFL season.
Where Will He Play?
The short answer to this is, I have absolutely no idea.
He’s played at all positions across the linebacker unit and has proven himself at all of them. People are calling him an outside linebacker (weakside or strongside) and if this is what he is then he’s in direct competition with Christian Kirksey and Jamie Collins. Even though I’m not a massive fan of Collins and his commitment to the game, I’m just not sure you take him out of being a starter. Also, Kirksey is a great player who I can’t see being replaced due to his great play, speed and athletism. That then just leaves the young Joe Schobert at middle linebacker. But hang on a minute, Schobert went to the Pro Bowl in 2017 so can you replace him as your starting MLB?
I honestly don’t know what the team are planning to do with Kendricks in 2018 but my gut instinct tells me that they will start him at the middle linebacker spot in place of Joe Schobert and see how the season pans out with performances and, more so, injuries. If either Kirksey of Collins goes down injured, Kendricks steps into their position and Schobert comes back in at the middle linebacker spot.
The whole 2-linebacker formation thing shouldn’t be an issue as I can see him being involved more often than not when it comes to the obvious passing downs for the Browns so his playing time shouldn’t diminish as it did in Philadelphia.
Good Move or Bad?
This can only be a good move by the Browns as the linebacker position was one that I was still a little concerned about, depth-wise. Yes, we have three good starters but after that, the quality of play dropped too far for my liking. I liked the play of James Burgess Jr, but that was about it from the rest of the players on the roster. The team now have Kirksey, Collins, Kendricks, Schobert, Burgess Jr and rookie Genard Avery all vying for roster spots. There are others in the mix also but these are the guys I’m expecting to be making the roster for 2018.
Looking at that linebacker unit fills me with confidence that the roster on both sides of the ball is a well-stocked thing and can do some damage in the 2018 season. The team now appears to have good starters at all positions (I’m still a little concerned about the left tackle spot as Shon Coleman fills me with zero confidence — I just hope rookie Austin Corbett can step up) and some much-improved depth all across the board.
This is indeed great work from the new front office and really does give Hue Jackson the tools to succeed. If he doesn’t make good things happen early in the season then it’s definitely got to be “bye bye Hue”.
So, what do you think? Is this a good move that adds more quality to the roster or do you think it could cause upset at the position? Let me know in the comments below.
Title image credit: Aaron Doster – USA TODAY Sports