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Minnesota Vikings reporter suggests All-Pro defender a likely 2023 cap casualty

After winning the NFC North, the Minnesota Vikings enter the offseason with significant financial issues as they try and reshape the roster while staying under the 2023 NFL salary cap.

Minnesota is currently $24.4 million over the cap ceiling, with key free agents like Alexander Mattison, Patrick Peterson and Garrett Bradburry among the top NFL free agents. Coming off a season when its defense declined significantly in the second half, the Vikings’ front office has multiple holes on the roster it must address.

It puts the organization in a position where difficult decisions must be made. In order for Minnesota to even meet the NFL’s cap obligations, it will need to part ways with several veterans on the roster.

Related: Minnesota Vikings could sign Kirk Cousins to extension

Amid growing speculation regarding the futures of Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook and star wide receiver Adam Thielen, a top NFL insider identified another core member of the team who could be released for cap savings.

In The Athletic’s overview of NFL cap casualties, Vikings’ reporter Alec Lewis highlighted Eric Kendricks as the likeliest cut candidate among many options in Minnesota.

“The Vikings have a bunch of options here. To name a few: Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith, Dalvin Cook, Za’Darius Smith and others. Kendricks, though, makes sense as a selection for this exercise. For one, his 2022 performance dipped considerably. It’s hard to peg how much his decline in impact was a byproduct of coordinator Ed Donatell’s scheme. There is also a sensible argument to be made about Kendricks’ potential in a man-to-man, blitz-heavy Brian Flores defense.”

Alec Lewis of The Athletic on Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks

An All-Pro selection in 2019, the former 45th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft struggled this past season. While Kendricks earned a high 81.1 run defense grade from Pro Football Focus, he also surrendered a 106.5 passer rating when targeted in coverage and missed 15 tackles.

Related: NFL insider raises the possibility of Minnesota Vikings taking QB in Round 1

Entering his age-31 season, Kendricks has declined in the past two years with his athleticism slowly fading. Considering he was part of the Vikings’ defensive issues last season and there is a new play-caller at the helm, it’s very possible Kendricks is cut.

As Lewis notes, releasing Kendricks would likely open the door for linebacker Brian Asamoah to take over as a starter. However, defensive coordinator Brian Flores might bring in a veteran linebacker who he is familiar with to help acclimate Vikings’ players into his system.

Related: Minnesota Vikings view Adam Thielen’s contract as ‘an issue’

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