If you thought the acquisition of Kiko Alonso meant the end of the Demeco Ryans era in Philadelphia, you definitely weren’t the only one. Seeing the combination of Mychal Kendricks and Alonso in the middle would have been a thing of beauty for years to come. The writing definitely seemed to be on the wall for Ryans, who has been nicknamed the Eagles “Mufasa.” By the time the 2015 season kicks off Ryans will 31, which is old considering the age of the rest of the Eagles’ front seven. He’s coming of an ACL tear that cost him the second half of the season. His cap hit would have hovered around 6 million dollars next year. It would have been relatively easy to thank him for his time here and simply let him go. Yet, the Eagles elected to keep him, restructuring his deal to keep him for two more years and save money.
It would appear this leaves Alonso and Ryans as the only safe middle linebackers on the team, seeing how the Eagles made efforts to make sure both players are here next year. So where does that leave Kendricks? The young stud linebacker played extremely well taking over for Ryans last year. It seems as if he enjoys playing in Philadelphia and solidified himself as a young leader on the defense. However, in the Eagles 3-4 defense usually only two middle linebackers can play at a time. Demeco Ryans brings nine years of experience and unquestionable leadership to the Eagles, and Kiko Alonso has the looks of a franchise linebacker. So would the Eagles look to trade Kendricks? For one thing, Kendricks’ contract is up at the end of the year, and is probably going to demand a pretty high price. Chip has also has always been known to favor “bigger” players, and Kendricks only stands at 5-11. Chips also stated that he’s concerned about Kendricks injury history.
“I thought when he was healthy he played really well,” Kelly says of Kendricks, “But we missed him for four games. The health aspect of it was a difficult thing.”
This is interesting because when Kelly was asked about Ryans and his injury, he flat out guaranteed that Demeco would return.
“We need DeMeco, I’m a big DeMeco fan,” Kelly said. “As a group, he really sets the tone for everybody on the defense side of the ball. So it’s just a matter of getting DeMeco healthy again.”
There was no “but” to it like there was for Kendricks. If the Eagles were truly looking to move him, they could probably get a lot in return for a young player like him. Maybe they could even include him in a blockbuster trade to move up for everyone’s favorite quarterback, Marcus Mariota.
Or maybe the Eagles would be better off keeping all three. I’m sure Kendricks would love to play in a dominant front seven, especially since he’ll probably be a key part of it. There’s no doubt in my mind Bill Davis and Chip Kelly can find a way to give all three a main role in this defense, even if it isn’t a “starting” one. Having too much talent could be a beautiful problem to have for Chip, but it all depends on how he uses it.