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The Vikings are moving on from one of their key defensive players.

Minnesota has released linebacker Eric Kendricks, the team announced on Monday morning.

“As a Pro Bowler and team captain, a Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee and a leader of the Vikings social justice efforts, Eric leaves a powerful, permanent legacy within our organization and the Minnesota community,” Vikings G.M. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said in a statement. “While he is best known as a playmaker and respected linebacker across the league, Eric’s contributions to the Vikings extend far beyond the field because of his selfless and unwavering commitment to improving societal issues. I have the utmost respect for Eric and wish him and Ally, along with their growing family, continued success in their next chapter.”

Kendricks was a second-round pick in the 2015 draft and it did not take him long to become a major contributor to Minnesota’s defense. Over the last eight seasons, he’s appeared in 117 games with 113 starts. Kendricks was a first-team All-Pro in 2019.

Kendricks has led Minnesota in tackles in each of the last two seasons. He recorded 137 of them in 2022, with eight tackles for loss, a sack, and six passes defensed.

“It is extremely difficult to start more than 100 games in this league, but Eric has been a staple in the locker room since he entered the NFL,” Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said in a statement. “During my first year as head coach, Eric played a critical role as a captain and a member of the leadership council in helping establish the culture we want in Minnesota. He was a consistent mentor to his younger teammates, and his tireless work ethic set a standard for others to emulate.”

By releasing Kendricks, the Vikings will save $9.5 million in cap space with $1.93 million in dead money.

Kendricks had just one season remaining on his contract. Kendricks is immediately eligible to sign with any club.

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