Mychal Kendricks was one of three Eagles absent from the start of spring workouts last week. Evan Mathis and Chris Polk were the other two.
Mathis is on the trade block and wants a new contract. Polk had not signed an offer sheet, wasn't under contract and eventually became an unrestricted free agent when the Eagles rescinded their offer on Friday.
Kendricks was in Costa Rica.
It was a "scheduled" vacation, according to a source close to linebacker, but who plans a trip exactly when his team is officially starting its preparations for the coming season? Answer: a disgruntled player or one who knows he could be traded.
The workouts are voluntary, and Kendricks is expected to show up eventually, but if he doesn't arrive this week with the draft looming in days it could signal even further that he is also possible trade bait.
Is it possible the Eagles, who likely have several trade scenarios in the works, told him to stay away from the NovaCare Complex? Kendricks certainly sees the landscape at inside linebacker with the addition of Kiko Alonso and must wonder what it means for him.
"I can tell you how it affects the linebacker room: it puts better players in one room," Kendricks said of the inside linebacker logjam on the NFL Network earlier this month. "We're stacked now. What does it mean for me? I'm not too sure. But I know that I will just do what got me here. That's all I can do is just do everything that is asked of me and play my butt off."
The Eagles traded for Alonso in March and added another year to DeMeco Ryans' contract earlier this month, even though he's still recovering from the second ruptured Achilles tendon of his career. So Alonso and Ryans are under contract through 2016, while Kendricks is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
The Kendricks trade rumors started as soon as I reported the Eagles had no intention of releasing Ryans after the Alonso trade. Kelly said that one of his goals this offseason was to add depth at inside linebacker after the Eagles were snake-bitten by injuries last season.
It's possible all three starting-caliber linebackers can work together in a rotation, or perhaps Alonso can play some on the outside, but Kendricks could be the odd man out by the end of the draft.
He's been a very productive player, but he's not a prototypical inside linebacker in Bill Davis' scheme and Chip Kelly wasn't exactly effusive in his praise when asked about Kendricks last month.
"When he was healthy, he played really well for us," Kelly said. "But we missed him for … four games. And the health aspect was a difficult thing. We were a different team without him on the field. But when he played, he played really well for us."
Kendricks missed four games with a calf strain. Ryans, meanwhile, missed eight. But a soft tissue injury is probably different in Kelly's eyes from an Achilles.
The Eagles also signed former Packer Brad Jones this offseason. Najee Goode and Emmanuel Acho are the other inside linebackers under contract. Casey Matthews signed with the Vikings last month. The Eagles expected bigger things out of Goode last season, but he tore his pectoral muscle in the opener.
Kendricks was arguably one of the Eagles' three best players on defense last season. He finished the year with 108 tackles, four sacks and three forced fumbles. He had a Pro Bowl-caliber performance against the Redskins in the penultimate game of the season.
When the Pro Bowl teams were announced the following week, Kendricks was upset about the apparent snub. He has a high opinion of his skills. It is no surprise that he had hoped the Eagles would talk about a contract extension this offseason.
But they haven't approach his agent, and with Alonso on board, it's unlikely they ever will this offseason – if he's on the roster after the draft. Even if Kendricks is still here next season, at the very least, his tenure with the Eagles is tenuous.
If Alonso outperforms him and Ryans comes back from his injury and doesn't miss a beat, the Eagles could just let Kendricks walk via free agency.
In some ways, the Kendricks trade rumors make little sense. He has been one of the Eagles' most consistent playmakers. But the coaches see his inconsistencies. They see his length (a generous 6-foot) as opposed to, say, an Alonso (6-3).
Eagles inside linebackers coach Rick Minter told me last August that Kendricks was best suited to play weakside linebacker in a 4-3 defense.
So what could the Eagles get for dealing Kendricks? A second- or third-rounder sounds about right, although he could be part of a package if Kelly really can pull off a trade for Marcus Mariota.