Chip Kelly has Optionality at Linebacker if he Keeps Mychal Kendricks


When the Philadelphia Eagles surprised the NFL world and selected Linebacker Jordan Hicks in the third-round yesterday, the first-thought of many was that it would spell the end of Mychal Kendricks’ time in Philadelphia. Chip Kelly says that isn’t the case.

On paper, it looks like coach-speak. When you listened to Kelly say it in the press conference, it sounded genuine.

And maybe it was.

Though some appear to believe virtually anything that comes out of his mouth, I don’t doubt that his name was on the table when the Eagles were trying to move up to the second pick for Marcus Mariota on Thursday night. Whether he was formally offered or the Titans were interested in him may never be known, but I think this off-season has shown that Chip Kelly doesn’t believe that he’s untouchable.

Others have suggested that Kendricks, who was drafted prior to Andy Reid’s final season in Philadelphia, doesn’t have the size that Chip Kelly seeks at the position and has turned Kelly off with his injury history.

All of that might be true, but Kelly isn’t stupid. If he was building his perfect linebacker it might not resemble Kendricks, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t see that Kendricks can really play.

Kelly apparently wanted more of a power runner than LeSean McCoy, but he still moved him for a valuable piece in Kiko Alonso. Previous reports had indicated that the Eagles would trade McCoy, but were unwilling to release him. Kelly got what he deemed to be good value for McCoy, so he moved him.

Kendricks might be available, but unlike McCoy, it doesn’t appear that Kelly has received an offer that he believes is acceptable for Kendricks. In fact, though I’m sure teams have at least inquired about him, Kelly said last night that no one has offered a trade for Kendricks

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Prior to the report of the massive package that Chip Kelly says the Eagles didn’t offer to the Titans, both Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that Kendricks was available. La Canfora reported that the team was targeting a second-round return for Kendricks, but that teams weren’t interested in meeting that asking price.

From there, if he wasn’t going to be part of Mariota trade-up, Chip Kelly may have decided it was best to hold onto Kendricks.

Yes, the Eagles appear to have a log-jam at Inside Linebacker. And that may be by design.

Kiko Alonso is coming back from his a torn ACL, and though Kelly probably believes he is going to be a long-term cog in the middle of his defense, he has a long history of injuries.

DeMeco Ryans did get a one-year extension this off-season, but that was more to lower his cap number for 2015 than anything. Kelly thinks extremely highly of “Mufasa”, but he’s 30 years-old and is coming back from his second torn Achilles. Is he an every down player at this point of his career? No. Will he be here in three years? Probably not.

So the Eagles gave themselves another long-term option that they like last night with their selection of Jordan Hicks, who also has quite the injury history of his own.

And Kendricks, who is probably the second most talented out of the group may still fit into the equation. If all goes well, he probably won’t see as many snaps as he wants to. But Kelly seems to have adopted the same philosophy with Linebackers that he has with Quarterbacks, where you can never have too much depth.

Kendricks has one year left on his deal, and if Kelly can’t get the value he wants for him in a trade, him and Billy Davis certainly believe there is room for someone with Kendricks’ talent. And in a year, maybe he leaves in free-agency. Or maybe DeMeco Ryans can’t rebound from this injury. Maybe Kiko Alonso gets hurt again. Maybe, as some believe, Hicks won’t work out in the NFL. Or maybe those three are serviceable, and it’s clear that tying money into Kendricks, who missed four game last year, isn’t in the Eagles’ best interests.

All of that’s without considering the idea of giving him, Alonso or Hicks snaps at Outside Linebacker.

Optionality has been the buzz-word of this off-season. I think it’s a real word, but I’m not entirely sure. Either way, Chip Kelly has assured that Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho, or anyone similar to them, won’t come close to seeing the field regularly in his tenure, even if one or two players go down. The spot on the defense that Kelly seems to value the most has optionality heading into 2015, and will have a ton if he holds onto Kendricks.

Next: Philadelphia Eagles Select Cornerback/Safety Eric Rowe