It remains to be seen whether or not Mychal Kendricks will serve prison time, but the Seattle Seahawks have further affirmed they intend for him to be a major part of their defense if he’s available to play next season.
Awaiting sentencing on April 4 for a guilty plea to insider trading charges, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported Kendricks has agreed to terms with the Seahawks on a one-year contract worth up to $4 million.
Kendricks originally signed with the Cleveland Browns last offseason, but after lying to the front office about his involvement in the insider trading scandal, the team released him in late August. He pleaded guilty to the charges on September 6, putting his NFL future in limbo.
But only a few weeks later, the Seahawks decided to sign Kendricks with linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright sidelined by injuries. Only four days after joining the team, he recorded three tackles and a sack in a 24-17 loss to the Bears and played very well as a starter the next two games in place of Wright at weakside linebacker.
Unfortunately, his appeal to the NFL was denied and the league office suspended Kendricks indefinitely on October 2, eventually handing him an eight-game suspension as punishment for his legal issues. He didn’t return until Week 14 against the Vikings and landed on injured reserve with a broken tibia after the game, bringing his tumultuous season to an abrupt end.
While understanding Kendricks may not be able to play, coach Pete Carroll indicated there could be a future for him in Seattle when eligible to return.
“We’ll look forward to getting him back next time and keeping him with us.”
Seattle hoped to have a clearer picture surrounding Kendricks status by this point, but his sentencing hearing was postponed in late January and his status for 2019 now hinges on the verdict handed down in April. His contract likely features minimal guaranteed money and if he winds up in prison for an extended period of time, Seattle will be able to move on without absorbing much of a cap hit.
But the real gamble associated with this contract revolves around Wright, who became an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday. By choosing to give Kendricks close to $4 million and counting on him to be available to start, the organization appears poised to say goodbye to yet another pillar of its Super Bowl defenses after losing Earl Thomas to Baltimore.
It’s not out of the question Wright could return due to his age and recent injury history, but with other linebackers signing massive contracts to open free agency, he’ll likely command a salary well beyond what the Seahawks want to pay coming off an injury-riddled season.
Going with a younger player such as Kendricks who has started 77 games in the NFL and offers a comparable skill set at a much cheaper cost seems well worth rolling the dice.