BEREA — Mychal Kendricks started 13 games at linebacker and played 60 percent of the defensive snaps as a key piece of the Philadelphia Eagles team that won the Super Bowl in February.
It wasn’t enough for him.
“We did something special over there, and I’ll always, always care and have love for those guys,” he said Tuesday in his first day with the Browns. “But I have personal goals, too. So being here allows me to reach those personal goals more so.”
Kendricks was released by the Eagles on May 22 in a cost-saving move and signed a one-year deal with the Browns, which was announced Tuesday morning. Kendricks, 27, wanted to be traded from Philadelphia before last season after a dip in playing time in 2016. He’s chasing a Pro Bowl — “I haven’t reached that yet,” he said — and believes the Browns give him the best chance to achieve that.
“I chose the Browns because it gives me an opportunity to showcase my talent, and I feel like their scheme fits me best,” he said.
That overshadowed any concern about going from a Super Bowl winner to the second 0-16 team in NFL history, and the chance to play with his brother, linebacker Eric, with the Vikings.
And he’s not worried about joining a linebacking corps with all three starters returning — Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert.
“I’m excited, man,” Kendricks said. “We’re going to be some dogs. I get to play with some dogs. I get to compete against them. I get to play with them. And the more, the better.”
Kendricks (5-foot-11, 240 pounds) didn’t practice, working on the side with trainers in his No. 54 jersey. He had minor ankle surgery in March and said he’s ready, but the Browns will proceed with caution.
Kendricks played on the weak side with the Eagles. Coach Hue Jackson said he’ll start out in the middle for the Browns but has the versatility to play all three spots. Schobert started in the middle last season and played every snap, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl as an alternate after sharing the NFL lead with 144 tackles in his second year. Kendricks plans to start — the only way to reach his personal goals — so something has to give somewhere.
“I plan on coming in here and working hard for everything that I get,” he said.
“It is called competition, right?” Jackson said. “Our job is to put the best football players on the team and then let that take care of itself. I think that our guys welcome that.”
General manager John Dorsey spent the offseason adding veteran depth across the roster, with linebacker the final position addressed.
“If you’re a good player and you’re out there, he’s going to add you to the team,” Kirksey said. “We’re trying to get as many dominant players as we can, that’s our focus.”
Collins was a Pro Bowler for the Patriots in 2015, joined the Browns in a trade in 2016 and signed a four-year, $50 million extension before last season. He missed the last seven games after tearing a medial collateral ligament but is one of the most gifted players on the roster.
Kirksey signed a four-year, $38 million extension before last season, then joined Schobert in playing every snap. He tied for fourth in the league with 138 tackles.
Kirksey said he can play all three spots and is open to a move to the middle if Kendricks fits better on the weak side. He doesn’t plan to give up any playing time.
“You believe that you should be on the field and play every snap. I just take pride in that,” he said.
Jackson raved about Kendricks’ versatility, intelligence and ability to cover, rush the passer and stop the run.
He started 74 games in six years with the Eagles, totaling 456 tackles, 14 sacks, three interceptions, 25 passes defensed, six forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. He started 13 games in the regular season last year, collecting 73 tackles and six passes defended. He started all three playoff games, including the Super Bowl.
He was a second-round pick in 2012.
“It’s very exciting for me. He is a really good football player. Obviously, he brings a unique skill set to our football team,” said Jackson, who isn’t worried about upsetting the apple cart. “You can’t have too many playmakers, too many guys that can pay football at a high level. We were the other way in the past. We did not have enough.”
Kendricks said he’ll bring intensity, love for the game, talent and leadership.
“As long as I’m that field, I’m going to make some stuff happen. I promise,” he said.
He’s fine taking on the challenge of rebuilding from 0-16.
“I want to be a part of an uprising. That’s cool to me,” he said.
The Kendricks deal didn’t come without anxious moments.
The agreement was originally reported Sunday afternoon by NFL Network, to which Kendricks reacted with a profanity-laced comment to the Pioneer Press denying a deal had been reached.
“It’s just at that moment in time there’s a whole business side of this thing where my agent’s working things out and we didn’t really want that to alter anything,” he said.
He’s about to change the landscape of the Browns’ linebacker position, and give coordinator Gregg Williams another asset as he constructs his elaborate array of personnel packages and play calls.
“We have a lot of great players, a lot of talented players who can play multiple positions. We can do it all,” Kirksey said. “We’ll see what Gregg has cooking back there in his playbook, but knowing him it’ll be something that’s crazy.”