After Fred Warner agreed to a lucrative deal with the San Francisco 49ers on Wednesday, it became even more obvious that Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks is underpaid.
After three seasons as a starting linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings, Eric Kendricks was awarded a five-year contract extension from the team in 2018, worth $50 million.
Since then, Kendricks has extended his streak of finishing with at least 100 tackles to five seasons, while also earning a Pro Bowl nod and a First-Team All-Pro selection in 2019.
Kendricks is one of the best linebackers in the NFL heading into the 2021 campaign. However, he’s no longer getting paid like one of the top players from his position group.
Should the Minnesota Vikings give Eric Kendricks a raise?
On Wednesday, it was revealed that the San Francisco 49ers and All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner have agreed to a five-year extension worth $95 million. Warner will now have an average annual value of more than $19 million.
Like Kendricks, Warner is an inside linebacker for his team’s defense. They both obviously don’t have the exact same responsibilities out on the field, but both of their respective teams heavily rely on them being in the lineup for each matchup.
After his new deal on Wednesday, Warner now has the highest average salary of any 4-3 linebacker in the NFL. In comparison, Kendricks currently has the 10th-highest average salary for a 4-3 linebacker in the league, behind guys like Matt Milano of the Buffalo Bills, Joe Schobert of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Cory Littleton of the Las Vegas Raiders.
During the last six years, only Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks has had more seasons with at least 100 tackles than Kendricks. The talented Minnesota defender is also one of six linebackers to accumulate a total of at least 600 tackles since the 2015 campaign.
Kendricks still has three years left on his current contract with the Vikings, and if the team was going to re-work his deal, their past tendencies indicate that next offseason would likely be the earliest it would happen.
At the same time, it wouldn’t be surprising if Minnesota figured out a way to give their top linebacker a little pay boost before the upcoming season. He’s currently scheduled to make less than $8.5 million in cash this year, which seems extremely low for a player of his caliber.
Tossing a few extra dollars his way now feels like it would also be a good way to prevent Kendricks from possibly asking for a drastic increase in pay after the 2021 campaign.
The current Vikings regime is known for rewarding guys who they have drafted and developed in the past. So even if the veteran linebacker doesn’t get a pay boost this year, he should feel confident about the team taking care of him financially in the near future.