John Dorsey continues to reshape Cleveland's roster in his image, and his latest addition comes at a familiar position: linebacker.
The Browns signed linebacker Mychal Kendricks to a one-year contract worth more than $3 million, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources informed of the situation. Kendricks' agent confirmed the signing Monday. In a corresponding move, the Brownsreleased linebacker Tank Carder to make room for Kendricks on the roster.
Kendricks was a salary-cap casualty of the reigning-champion Eagles, let go as a post-June 1 cut to save Philadelphia $6 million. He joins a Browns team that seems fairly set on the edge with Jamie Collins but lacks overall linebacker depth, with Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey serving as the other two starters at Mike and Will linebackers.
Schobert was a Pro Bowl selection (originally an alternate), but racked up his tackles in part as a result of the Browns' defense spending a lot of time on the field. We aren't taking away from his accomplishment -- he was an important and effective part of Cleveland's defense -- but it's no coincidence Kirksey joined him in the league's top five for most tackles recorded in 2017.
Cleveland isn't making a corresponding roster move to accommodate for Kendricks, instead bringing him in as a starter-quality player to compete for a job. Should Kendricks arrive, buy in and make the necessary efforts he's always made, Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is expected to find plenty of uses for Kendricks within Williams' myriad of packages.
Kendricks most likely fits in the middle, with the ability to play Mike and move to his more natural position of Sam, where Collins will line up. Kendricks stands to make an instant impact at either position, bringing pass-coverage ability in addition to his skills against the run, and also is a quality depth addition in the event Collins misses time due to injury as he did in 2017.
At 27 years old, Kendricks is square in the middle of his prime, with enough value for the Eagles to flatly deny his request to be traded last summer. He's appeared in 12 or more games in each season of his six-year career, recording 459 tackles, 14 sacks, 26 passes defensed and three interceptions over that span. He's also forced six fumbles and was one piece of a menacing front seven that helped Philadelphia to a title.
He'll go from the NFL's elite to cellar in Cleveland, though the Browns figure to make a significant improvement based on their flurry of personnel moves this offseason. Linebacker was the last position group left untouched by Dorsey when it came to free agency or trades.
Teamed with Collins and Kirksey (and Schobert, rotationally), Cleveland might suddenly have a rather formidable linebacking corps for the first time in years.