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Vikings release veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks

Vikings release veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks
Vikings release veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks 00:26

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings announced Monday that veteran Pro Bowl linebacker Eric Kendricks has been released.

Head coach Kevin O'Connell says Kendricks, who has started more than 100 games in the NFL, has been a "staple" in the locker room.

"During my first year as head coach, Eric played a critical role as a captain and a member of the leadership council in helping establish the culture we want in Minnesota," O'Connell said. "He was a consistent mentor to his younger teammates, and his tireless work ethic set a standard for others to emulate. I'm thankful to have had the chance to coach Eric as a player and get to know him as a person. I know he and Ally will have an immediate positive impact on their next team and community."­

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - OCTOBER 03: Eric Kendricks #54 of the Minnesota Vikings runs onto the field before the against the Cleveland Browns at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

The move was announced before free agency begins, and amid an expected rebuild on defense. Last year, the defense was one of the worst in the league. The team has since hired a new defensive coordinator, Brian Flores. 

RELATED: Vikings hire Brian Flores as new defensive coordinator

The contract termination means Kendricks is free to sign with any team before free agency begins on March 15. 

"Eric leaves a powerful, permanent legacy within our organization and the Minnesota community," general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said. "While he is best known as a playmaker and respected linebacker across the league, Eric's contributions to the Vikings extend far beyond the field because of his selfless and unwavering commitment to improving societal issues. I have the utmost respect for Eric and wish him and Ally, along with their growing family, continued success in their next chapter."

Fellow Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah II, who was drafted last year and is expected to be a larger part of the defensive scheme next year, tweeted out a farewell to Kendricks. 

Kendricks was drafted by Minnesota in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. 

Since then, he's played eight seasons, started 113 of 117 games and racked up 919 tackles -- second among NFL players since 2015. He's led in tackles for 66 games, which is a franchise record. 

Kendricks was also a Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee and 2020 Vikings Community Man of the Year. 

Thank You, Eric Kendricks by Minnesota Vikings on YouTube
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