The Seahawks have reached an agreement to re-sign free agent linebacker Mychal Kendricks to a one-year contract worth up to at least $4 million in the hopes that he will be able to play in 2019. The news, first reported by ESPN and the NFL Network, was confirmed by a league source to the Seattle Times.
Kendricks reportedly faces sentencing on April 4 in Pennsylvania after pleading guilty last summer to insider trading. But the Seahawks appear to be banking on Kendricks getting a sentence that will allow him to play in 2019, and while details of the contract are not available, it is likely being structured in a manner where he will not get much, if anything, unless he can play (base salaries are paid out in weekly installments during the season to players on the active roster).
Seattle signed Kendricks last September after he was waived by Cleveland in the wake of his plea to help fill in for an injured K.J. Wright at weakside linebacker.
Kendricks played in four games with three starts, recording 14 tackles and two quarterback sacks, sitting out eight games as part of an NFL suspension for his plea, and then missing the final three regular season games and the playoff loss to Dallas with a knee injury.
Coach Pete Carroll indicated at the time, though, that the knee was not a significant enough of an issue to impact his availability in 2019.
“It’s not a terrible knee injury but it is going to take a little bit — at least six-to-eight weeks kind of a situation,” Carroll said on Dec, 12. “So we have to wait it out.”
Carroll also said at that time that the Seahawks hoped to keep Kendricks in the organization.
“We will look forward to getting him back next time and keeping him with us,” Carroll said.
While it remains unclear if and when Kendricks will be available, his re-signing might indicate the Seahawks are prepared to move on from veteran Wright, who is also now an unrestricted free agent.
Kendricks, 28, was signed a few weeks after Wright suffered a knee injury in the preseason that sidelined him for the first six games and limited him to just five games for the season.
Wright turns 30 in July and could get an offer that Seattle won’t want to pay, especially in light of its recent reluctance to pay much to keep its aging players. If Wright were to not return it could leave Seattle with just one player remaining on defense in 2019 from the team that beat Denver in the Super Bowl — middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
However, the door was said to still be wide open for Wright to return to Seattle and the two sides were known to still be talking Wednesday night.
Seattle also has each of the other two players who helped replace Wright last season under contract — Shaquem Griffin, a rookie a year ago who started the opener at WLB in place of Wright, and Austin Calitro, who got five starts last season, four in place of Wright. It was after the struggles of Griffin against Denver that the Seahawks signed Kendricks. The team announced Wednesday that Calitro was among 10 exclusive rights free agents who have gotten a qualifying offer and will stay with the Seahawks in 2019.
Seattle also used Barkevious Mingo some at weakside linebacker last season and he has another year left on his contract, as well.
Kendricks initially was scheduled to be sentenced in January, which would have allowed the Seahawks to know now if he would be available in 2019. But it was revealed in January that the sentencing had been delayed. General manager John Schneider said at the NFL Combine last month that the team was waiting to hear on Kendricks’ availability. But the move Wednesday shows Seattle is taking steps to assure it has Kendricks whenever he can play again.