If it’s free agency the Los Angeles Rams pivot toward to replace Bobby Wagner, then they have an opportunity to bring back another Californian — with this newly available one hailing from Fresno.
The Minnesota Vikings made the decision to release former Pro Bowl linebacker Eric Kendricks on Monday, March 6 — in a move that severs ties with a defender who was once on a five-year, $50 million contract.
But already, thoughts of Kendricks being the guy to replace Wagner has surfaced. Connor Zimmerlee of Rams Digest on Fan Nation wrote how luring in Kendricks would make sense for the Rams, adding how he’d step into a starting role right away and, with Kendricks in his early 30s, could be on a beneficial move for both parties.
Zimmerlee isn’t the only analyst who believes Kendricks is a fit inside the “Rams House.” Andrew Buller-Ross of Sportsnaut is another who believes he can be impactful for the Rams.
“Just because the Minnesota Vikings decided to move on from Kendricks after eight seasons, it doesn’t mean he can’t still play at a high level,” Buller-Ross wrote. “He’s led the team in tackles each of the past two seasons while typically providing above-average coverage from a middle linebacker. In Minnesota’s case, they wanted the $9.5 million in cap savings his release provided.
But as they say, one’s trash can be another’s treasure, and that’s the exact scenario here with the Los Angeles Rams, who have parted with Bobby Wagner this offseason,” he continued. “Kendricks can immediately step back into a starting role and would be joining a talented cast led by game-wrecking pass-rusher Aaron Donald.”
Kendricks Would Have to Adjust to Defense he Struggled With if Brought Over
Perhaps one dilemma for Kendricks if lured in won’t be his age. But rather how he would fit in more of an odd man front scheme under Raheem Morris.
Kendricks has played his entire career with four defensive linemen in front of him until last season. His 137 tackles was lower than his career-best from 2021. His sack production also declined working with Ed Donatell. However, he still matched his tackles for a loss total from ’21 with eight stops behind the line of scrimmage.
But here’s where he can additionally help the Rams: In coverage. He produced more pass deflections (6) than in 2021 and in 10 games, allowed four catches or less his side and didn’t allow 50 yards receiving his side in 13 contests per Pro Football Reference Advanced Stats.
Pairing him with fast rising Ernest Jones would also be another strong selling point, as Jones hit past 100 tackles paired with Wagner last season.
Rams Anticipated to Cut or Trade Sack Leader
Meanwhile, there is expected to be another huge hole to fill in the Rams’ linebacker room. This one involving Leonard Floyd.
Per ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter on Monday morning, the Rams are planning to part ways with the towering edge defender who produced nine sacks last season.
“Rams are expected to release OLB Leonard Floyd if they cannot trade him first, per league sources. Floyd has had at least nine sacks in each of the past three seasons,” Schefter tweeted.
Floyd became a 9-10 sack threat the moment he came over to the Rams via the Chicago Bears. He ends up with 29 sacks as a Ram per Pro Football Reference.
Floyd, however, was on a four-year, $64 million deal which included a potential out for the 2023 offseason. Per Spotrac, his restructure value was set for only $3 million. He was also due to have a base salary of $13.5 million.
His pending departure now means that the Rams will have parted ways with four from the edge rush room. Terrell Lewis, Justin Hollins and Takkarist McKinley were all mid-season cuts.