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Broncos Should Trade for Vikings LB Eric Kendricks Before Camp, Analyst Says

A would-be reunion with GM George Paton.

Crap-Throwing Szn is a tradition unlike any other when the NFL calendar deadens to a halt in mid-June, with teams enjoying a six-week respite prior to training camp. An absence of legitimate news and lack of football activity gives way to ... well, crap-throwing.

And we're off: Bleacher Report's Ian Wharton proposed the Denver Broncos trade a 2023 second-round draft pick for Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks before camp opens on July 27.

"The Denver Broncos struck gold with their trade for Russell Wilson," Wharton wrote last week. "Continuing to go all-in during this window makes sense if the asset cost isn't too prohibitive. ... Kendricks is still a star despite his age, but he makes more sense for a true Super Bowl contender than a fringe playoff hopeful."

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Although you may disagree with his premise, it's difficult to refute Wharton's point that Kendricks "has been as productive as any of his peers and is coming off maybe his best all-around season yet." The eighth-year veteran led Minnesota in tackles (143) last season, adding five sacks, five quarterback hits, four pass deflections, and two interceptions. He graded out as Pro Football Focus' No. 37 LB among 87 qualifiers.

A career-long Viking, Kendricks, 30, made the Pro Bowl and earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2019 and boasts 96 games of starting experience. The 6-foot, 232-pound defender is also familiar with Broncos general manager George Paton from their time together in the Twin Cities.

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The trade, on paper, appears sensible for a Denver squad that's deploying Josey Jewell, Alex Singleton, and Jonas Griffith as its primary inside linebackers. Kendricks would be a massive upgrade over each of the three.

In actuality, though, Paton is unlikely to pursue a reunion, particularly at such a staggering cost — the high-level trade compensation compounded by Kendricks' $13.5 million salary-cap number. Burning picks and blowing money are no-nos to Denver's chief executive.

Besides, under new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, the Broncos did not place a premium on the ILB position the entire offseason, largely bypassing free agency and the draft. There's little reason to believe that'll change now.


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