While he was a fan favorite and did many great things on and off the field, he would count over nine million toward the cap this upcoming season.
Eric Kendricks (UCLA)
It was a frugal and reasonable move for the Vikings to go in a different direction with a player that is now on the wrong side of 30 years old. They still have Brian Asamoah, Troy Dye, and Jordan Hicks on the current roster as possible replacements. They could also look to the draft or free agents to fill his role as well.
There are a couple of first-round LB prospects that are sure to pique Minnesota’s front office’s interest. They go by the names of Trenton Simpson and Drew Sanders. They both come from more prominent schools in Clemson and Arkansas.
Trenton Simpson (Clemson)
Throughout his time at Clemson, Simpson has shown that he can be utilized in almost any position on the defensive side of the ball. He has played as a safety in certain play sets and as a defensive interior lineman or edge rusher in other packages.
Calling him an LB does not describe his talents and skills accurately. He could realistically fill in at almost any position on the defensive side of the ball. He can fly all over the field and could be a big step toward fixing the defense’s weaknesses against the passing game.
Simpson finished his three years at Clemson with 166 tackles, 12.5 sacks, five passes defended, and three forced fumbles. To compare that with Kendricks’ stats after four seasons at UCLA, he finished with 481 tackles, ten sacks, five interceptions, seven passes defended, and one forced fumble.
Drew Sanders (Arkansas)
Sanders has great versatility with his game as well. He transferred from Alabama to Arkansas last season. While making this change, he also went from an on-ball linebacker to an off-ball linebacker. He could function as a regular inside linebacker, but a defensive coordinator like Brian Flores could really unlock his potential to be something special at the next level.
He finished his three-year career with those two schools with 136 tackles, 10.5 sacks, one interception, seven passes defended, and three forced fumbles.
There is no guarantee that either of these guys is ready to take their game to the next level. Still, with a GM like Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and a defensive coordinator like Brian Flores, it would be exciting to see them given that chance in Minnesota.
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