Eagles have options with Mychal Kendricks thanks to strong preseason

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 10: Geronimo Allison
GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 10: Geronimo Allison /

After another dominating preseason performance against the Dolphins, Mychal Kendricks is pressing the Eagles to either play him or trade him.

Did you hear that? Those are the phones at the Novacare Complex. They’re being blown up by the general managers of other teams. They’re all looking to make a deal with Philadelphia Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman for linebacker Mychal Kendricks.

After yet another impressive preseason performance from the sixth-year linebacker, the Eagles have an interesting situation on their hands. Do they trade him or not?

How we got here:

It seemed that Kendrick’s days in Philadelphia were numbered at the end of the 2016 season. Being the third inside linebacker in a defense dominated by nickel and dime formations, prevented Kendricks from seeing the field often. The former second-round pick played only 273 snaps last year (26.8% of the team’s total), and he rarely made an impact when given an opportunity.

Both fans and the media alike expected the Eagles to move on from Kendricks. The blitz- centric linebacker was in a defense that averaged the least amount of linebacker blitzes of any team in 2016.

In fact, reports surfaced during training camp that Kendricks was interested in being traded out of Philadelphia. Still, the trade value of Kendricks was at an all-time low. There was only $1.8 million in salary cap relief to be gained if he was cut, so the Eagles held on to the veteran throughout the summer. Now, it seems as though not rushing to a decision has paid dividends.

Related Story: Mychal Kendricks has found his mojo

Preseason dominance:

Through the first three preseason games, Kendricks has dominated in all facets of the defense. Heading into the fourth and final week of the preseason, Kendricks has an impressive stat line. It includes four tackles (two for loss), two hits on opposing quarterbacks and three interceptions (one was returned for six points). He even registered a sack.

Those three interceptions are the biggest plus in the stat line since coverage has always been seen as a weakness of the former member of the California Bears.

Take a look:

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A change in philosophy?

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has dialed up the blitz a lot in all three preseason games. Kendricks has been the biggest beneficiary of this, blitzing from the edge and up the middle. So what do the Eagles do now?

Making the case for trading Kendricks:

Outside of base packages, the defense still will feature mostly two inside linebackers with three or more cornerbacks in. That will be seen in passing situations. With Kendricks’ trade value at it’s highest, should the Eagles try and deal the linebacker to a team that needs one? Think of the Buffalo Bills or San Francisco 49ers.

Reports going back a week ago suggest the Eagles would “love” to deal Kendricks.

If Roseman could land a fourth round pick or higher, he may pull the trigger despite the team’s lack of depth at inside linebacker.

Making the case to keep Kendricks:

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Depth: Keeping Kendricks makes sense too. After Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham, the Eagles would have to slot Najee Goode, Joe Walker, or rookie Nathan Gerry in as an inside linebacker if a trade took place.

Bradham also becomes an unrestricted free agent this spring.

Blitzing: As a result of the trade for Ronald Darby, it seems like Schwartz is more open to using blitz packages. In both preseason games following the trade with Buffalo, Schwartz has allowed the defense to bring the blitz while Darby and Mills are often alone on the outside without much help in coverage.

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The strongest part of Kendricks’ game is his ability to blitz.

Perhaps the Eagles could keep Kendricks until next off-season. If traded next spring, the Eagles would free $4.4 million in much-needed cap space. Either way, Kendricks is balling. Who knows if he’s playing like a man that wants to be traded.