Vikings Stars, Adam Thielen React to Team Cutting All-Pro

Adam Thielen

Getty Adam Thielen

The Minnesota Vikings released linebacker Eric Kendricks on Monday, the first of several veteran cuts expected this offseason with the team needing to get under the salary cap by the start of the league year.

A 2015 second-round pick, Kendricks rose to Pro Bowl and All-Pro status in 2019 as one of the best off-ball linebackers in the NFL. Kendricks remained among the upper echelon of linebackers over the past two seasons but struggled in the transition to a 3-4 base defense in 2022.  He finished the 2022 season graded 50th among 81 qualifying inside linebackers by Pro Football Focus.

Fellow starting linebacker Jordan Hicks is also viewed as a candidate to be released this offseason, however, Kendricks’ contract offered more cap savings with his release than Hicks.

The Vikings cleared $9.5 million in cap space by releasing Kendricks on March 6, less than 10 days from the start of the free agency period. According to Over the Cap, Minnesota must clear an additional $15.7 million in cap space to be cap compliant by March 15. They will need even more cap space to sign veteran free agents and their upcoming draft class.

Kendricks was a Walter Peyton Man of the Year award nominee, a member of the team’s leadership group and helped start the organization’s social justice committee.

The Wilf family offered the following statement after Kendricks was released on Monday morning:

Eric’s impact on our franchise over the past eight years has been immeasurable. At the core of our defense, Eric exemplified perfectly what it means to be a Minnesota Viking. He was the ultimate competitor and an incredible leader who set a high standard and consistently carried himself with class. Off the field, Eric set an example for others with his passion for giving back and using his platform to drive positive change. We especially appreciate his immediate contributions as an original member of the team’s social justice committee and his partnership with us in the fight against social and racial inequities. We are grateful to Eric and his wife, Ally, and look forward to watching them continue to make a difference in the future.

Adam Thielen, Other Vikings React to Kendricks’ Release

After announcing Kendricks’ release on social media, many members of the Vikings shared messages in support of Kendricks.

Adam Thielen shared the team’s Instagram post on his story, adding the caption: “Great player but even better Teammate! Big things ahead.” Cornerback Duke Shelley echoed a similar sentiment, replying to the team’s Instagram post: “Great teammate better person.”

Safety Josh Mettellus, who became a team captain late in the season, replied to the Vikings’ Instagram post: “I appreciate you for everything.” Kicker Greg Joseph wrote: “The best lockermate a guy could ask for. Legend.”

Longtime teammate with the Vikings and at UCLA Anthony Barr reacted with a teary-eyed emoji as he watches his friend take a similar step he made last offseason after being released.

Eric Kendricks’ Small Gesture Embodies His Character

Kendricks’ community efforts have been well-publicized throughout his tenure in Minnesota but before he was a star he was making a difference in people’s lives.

In April 2021, a Twitter user posted a series of tweets detailing a story of how Kendricks carried groceries with the family to a different apartment building than his.

Here’s the thread of tweets:

here’s a story time from when I first moved to Minnesota: I moved into Eitel apartments in Minneapolis in 2016(I no longer live there) We parked in a parking garage that’s as shared with another, way nicer/expensive apartment building.

There was a target not very far away, so we’d bike there for groceries. When we got back we put our bikes in the parking garage. We were walking back and I was struggling to carry my groceries cuz I was like 9

Long story short @EricKendricks54 parked in the same parking garage as us because he lived in the other building. Anyways he carried my groceries for me up the elevator. He is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met!!! We had a whole conversation.

The fan capped his story by posting a photo of Kendricks with the caption: “STAN THIS MAN @EricKendricks54 Thanks for helping me with my groceries in 2016 homie.”

“Haha I actually remember than [sic].. no problem bro, we all need a hand sometimes,” Kendricks replied.

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