Free agency isn’t just for March. The Browns made that apparent Tuesday with the addition of veteran linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who promises to give Cleveland immediate help in the middle of the defense.
Here are five things to know about Kendricks.
- Kendricks comes to Cleveland after six seasons with the Eagles, who selected the 2012 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year out of Cal-Berkeley in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He was an every-game starter from Day 1 in Philadelphia, bringing 74 starts and even more games of experience to Cleveland, which has added a number of players like Kendricks throughout the offseason. His NFL debut, coincidentally, came at FirstEnergy Stadium in Philadelphia’s 2012 season-opening win over the Browns.
- Kendricks’ most productive season was in 2013, when he was second on the team in tackles (106) and interceptions (three). Over his six seasons with the Eagles, Kendricks recorded 336 tackles, 15 tackles for losses, 11 sacks, three interceptions and five forced fumbles. He saw his playing time dip a bit in 2016 but emerged as a valuable figure in Philadelphia’s defense last season, when Jordan Hicks went down with a season-ending injury. He was a starter in the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory over the Patriots.
- Kendricks joins a Browns linebacking corps that had remained relatively stable throughout the Browns’ busy offseason. Cleveland returns all three of its starters -- Christian Kirksey, Joe Schobert and Jamie Collins -- and added rookie Genard Avery in the fifth round of the draft. Schobert, who landed in his first Pro Bowl, and Kirksey combined for 282 tackles and played every single snap. Collins made the Pro Bowl in 2015 and is coming back from a knee injury that kept him off the field for the second half of 2017.
- Kendricks comes from a football family. His father, Marvin, was a running back at UCLA in the 70s. Kendricks’ younger brother, Eric, also played at UCLA and currently stars for the Vikings. The brothers squared off in last year’s NFC Championship, a game won, of course, by older brother’s squad.
- Kendricks, in a recent feature by Yahoo! Sports, credits his mother, Yvonne, for his work ethic and discipline. “Raising four kids by herself, working double shifts. She made sure something good would happen,” Kendricks told Yahoo! “She made us wake up at 5:30 to go to ‘zero’ period so we could work out before school and save money on breakfast. I hated it, but now I really think about those moments. Learning how to wake up, be on time and put in the work when everyone else was asleep. She taught us that.”