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Should the Patriots try to trade for Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks?

There is a linebacker on the market and the Patriots should be interested.

The Philadelphia Eagles are looking to trade LB Mychal Kendricks, according to Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice. The 5’11, 240 pound Kendricks is a five-year veteran out of the University of California. He started at linebacker his first four years in the NFL, before falling to a reserve role under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

We’ve been here before. The New England Patriots should absolutely call to see if they could acquire Kendricks.

Kendricks runs a 4.56s 40 yard dash, with an incredible 10’7 broad jump and stunning 6.68s three cone time. Other than his height, Kendricks represents one of the most physically impressive linebackers in the NFL. He was a productive 4-3 strongside linebacker and a good 3-4 inside linebacker, offering versatility that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick enjoys.

The Patriots acquired another stellar athlete from the Eagles that didn’t fit into Schwartz’s defense in CB Eric Rowe and Rowe played a major role in New England’s Super Bowl LI victory.

Kendricks strength at middle linebacker is his ability to crash the pocket on blitzes and Schwartz refused to use him in that capacity this year; the Patriots blitz linebackers more than 30 other NFL teams (trailing only the New York Giants). He would fit in nicely next to Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, and Shea McClellin as linebackers that could penetrate the pocket, while also compete in the open field.

The Patriots are looking to extend Hightower, but if they don’t come to terms and are forced to use the franchise tag, then the Patriots could be shopping for new linebackers in 2018. Both Hightower and Van Noy would be free agents and if the Patriots can’t reach an extension with Hightower after using the franchise tag, then he probably won’t return in 2018.

The 26-year-old Kendricks is under contract through 2019, which would mean the Patriots would acquire three years of service at a price of $18 million. Kendricks collected 278 tackles, 11 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 3 interceptions, and 11 passes defended in his three years under head coach Chip Kelly from 2013-15 when he earned his current contract extension.

Kempski projects the price for Kendricks to be a mid-to-late round draft pick and it would be a Belichick move to ship a 5th rounder to the Eagles for Kendricks.

Of course, Kendricks is due $4.35 million in guaranteed money on March 11th, so it’s probable that the Eagles will be forced to release him if a trade partner is not found. The Eagles have very little leverage in this situation, so perhaps the Patriots could also receive a late round lottery pick in return, to retain their total number of draft selections.