Chargers sign Eric Kendricks, close the door on Drue Tranquill returning

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - New York Giants v Minnesota Vikings
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - New York Giants v Minnesota Vikings / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

Drue Tranquill future was one of the biggest storylines surrounding the LA Chargers entering the 2023 offseason. Tranquill is coming off of a career year that is undoubtedly going to result in a pay day for the former fourth-round pick.

Tranquill's career is all but over as the Chargers signed his likely replacement on Monday. Former All-Pro linebacker Eric Kendricks announced on Instagram that he was signing with the Chargers after he was recently released from the Minnesota Vikings.

Kendricks is a California native that went to college at UCLA. He also reunites with two former Minnesota coaches in special teams coordinator Ryan Ficken and linebackers coach Jeff Howard. Howard was a defensive assistant in Minnesota from 2013 through 2019.

Chargers won't re-sign Drue Tranquill after signing Eric Kendricks

Update: Kendricks is reported to have signed a two-year deal with the Chargers. With how NFL contracts are typically structured, the Chargers could likely get out of the contract with little to no dead cap money in 2024, if needed.

It is essentially a guarantee that the team is going to move on from Tranquill with this move. Brandon Staley historically does not value linebackers much in his defense and with Kenneth Murray still on the roster, the team is not going to pay two linebackers.

Kendricks likely won't get as high of a salary as Tranquill but it should be relatively close one. The benefit of signing Kendricks is that it will likely be a short-term deal whereas the team would have had to commit to multiple seasons for Tranquill.

The former First-Team All-Pro is coming off of a down year with the Vikings but he could still add a lot of value to this Chargers' defense. In a down year he still managed to log 137 combined tackles with six passes defended and a fumble recovery touchdown.

Kendricks is also a stout run defender. While his play in the pass game has regressed as he has gotten older, he still has put together great tape against the run. Per Pro Football Focus, he finished with 24 run stops last season. Tranquill finished with 28 run stops himself.

PFF grades are far from perfect but Kendricks finished with an 81.1 run defense grade. That was the seventh-highest grade given out to a linebacker with at least 300 run defense snaps. In comparison, Tranquill was given a 48.8 grade, the sixth-worst.

The difference is not that severe but it is clear to anyone that watched Kendricks last season that he can still defend the run and should be able to do so as good if not better than Tranquill.

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After unlocking Tranquill and Kyzir White the last two years, perhaps Staley and the defensive coaching staff could do the same with Kendricks, returning him close to that All-Pro form that he flashed in 2019.