Linebacker Mychal Kendricks wasn’t ready to commit to the Browns on Sunday.
Until he was.
Or at least appeared to be.
A turbulent few hours ended as they began: The Browns and Kendricks were close to a deal and the hope was it becomes official Monday, a league source told The Chronicle-Telegram.
For a while that looked like anything but a sure thing.
After NFL Network reported Kendricks was signing a one-year contract with the Browns, he vehemently denied any agreement.
“No, it’s not accurate,” Kendricks, 27, told the Pioneer Press in Minnesota. “I don’t know who the (expletive) said that. That (expletive) is (expletive).”
Hours later, Yahoo’s Jordan Schultz reported agreement on a one-year deal with a maximum value of $3.5 million, citing a source. The Pioneer Press confirmed the report.
Kendricks was released by the Super Bowl champion Eagles on May 22 in a cost-cutting move. He was set to make $7.6 million in 2018.
He visited the Vikings and Raiders last week before meeting with the Browns on Friday.
The addition of Kendricks to the linebacking corps would be interesting on several levels.
From an individual standpoint, Kendricks (6-foot, 240 pounds) would go from the Super Bowl champions to a team coming off 1-15 and 0-16 seasons. Talk about the penthouse to the outhouse.
Then there’s the issue of how he’d fit at a position where all three starters return. Schultz reported Kendricks would be an immediate starter in Cleveland.
Kendricks was unhappy with his role in Philadelphia in 2016 and asked to be traded before last season. He wasn’t and wound up playing 60 percent of the snaps after an injury to Jordan Hicks.
Kendricks started 13 games during the regular season for the Eagles last year, then all three playoff games as Philadelphia won its first Super Bowl by beating New England. He had 51 tackles and two sacks during the regular season, and Profootballfocus.com graded him with the top pass rush productivity among 4-3 outside linebackers.
The Browns have Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey at the outside spots and Joe Schobert in the middle, although any of the three could switch roles. Collins was used as a pass-rushing defensive end at times last year, and Kendricks would increase the flexibility of the unit.
Collins was a Pro Bowler for the Patriots in 2015, Schobert made it as an alternate last year and Kirksey has started 32 straight games. Collins and Kirksey signed long-term, big-money contracts before last season.
“If there is a player that we are bringing in here, we feel like he can help our football team be better,” coach Hue Jackson said Wednesday when asked about Kendricks. “We are not going to turn down good football players.”
Kendricks, who had minor ankle surgery in March, was a second-round pick of Philadelphia in 2012. He started 74 of 85 games in six years with the Eagles, totaling 338 tackles, 14 sacks, three interceptions, six forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.
Browns general manager John Dorsey had done little to address the linebacker position in the offseason. Genard Avery, who was drafted in the fifth round out of Memphis, was the only noteworthy move.