As it turned out, only two of those player lived up to their ‘above average’ label. Hicks shattered expectations, recording 85 tackles, a sack and a whopping five interceptions, and that was good enough to place him at one of the best at his position and fifth in the league. Meanwhile, Bradham tallied a respectable 103 tackles, two sacks, and an interception.
Kendricks didn’t meet expectations, registering 32 tackles, no sacks and no picks. It was a season of under-performing and disappointment, but part of the reason for this was he only played 26.8% of defensive snaps, a far cry from the production the team got from Bradham and Hicks.
One thing is becoming more and more obvious, and its’ the fact that Kendricks isn’t a priority on the Eagles’ defense or their team for that matter. He’s been rumored to be cut or traded, and that would save $1,800,000 for the cap.
His lack of playing time could stem from the fact the Eagles use a lot of three cornerback sets. Nevertheless, all signs are pointing to a divorce between the linebacker and the team.
With that being said, the Eagles are going to have to replace him, and it’s not because he lacks talent. He’s certainly better than any of the backups this team has, but he’s just too expensive and may not be worth the financial burden.
One of the most logical replacements for Kendricks would be Malcolm Smith. He was the Super Bowl XLVIII MVP, and his contract is nearing expiration. The Eagles may need to take a look at him. Now, Smith isn’t an elite talent by any means, despite taking home the MVP trophy in the sport’s biggest game, but he’s still a very good player.
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The Oakland Raiders linebacker recorded back-to-back seasons with 100 or more tackles, and he’s helped the Raiders’ defense tremendously. He’s an absolute stud, reads plays well and is a tackling machine. The only thing you could really criticize him for is his pass coverage.
That’s a flaw you may not want a linebacker to have, but think about this. Hicks is better in coverage than Bradham is, and he’d be a great compliment to the other two linebackers as he is a very good run-stuffer.
Just think about it. He had three times as many tackles as Kendricks, and there’s no way he wouldn’t be an improvement to the Eagles’ linebacker position. He has experience, and Oakland may be willing to part ways with him, especially if Aldon Smith gets re-instated. If given a three-year deal, worth four to five million annually, the Eagles could afford his contract, and If Smith joins Jim Schwartz and his defense, the Eagles would get the linebacker core in 2017 they thought they would have had in 2016.
There’s no doubt Smith would be a colossal upgrade over Kendricks and could help the Eagles defense finally live up to its’ expectations, so Philadelphia should really consider giving Smith a look, a call and possibly even a contract.