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What the Mychal Kendricks contract extension means for the Philadelphia Eagles defense

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles reached a contract extension with Mychal Kendricks on Monday evening, which caught everyone by surprise. Kendricks went from being involved in trade rumors earlier this offseason to now being a long-term piece on Philadelphia's defense. Here's a look at what this move means for the team going forward.

Mychal Kendricks is here to stay

First and foremost, this is the most obvious implication of the deal. Kendricks is a great player. Through three seasons with the Eagles, he's made 40 starts in 42 games. He's racked up 206 tackles, 17 passes defensed, nine sacks, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and three interceptions during that time. He's an athletic play-maker who can defend the run, drop into coverage, and rush the passer. His pass rush ability can't be understated. He provides a lot of value in that regard.

Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks can be a great duo for years to come

Kendricks is only 24. Kiko Alonso is only 25. If Alonso can pick up where he left off as a rookie ... watch out. The two of these guys flying around the field making plays should make any offense nervous. This could be a crazy good inside linebacker pairing.

No one knows what Chip Kelly is really thinking

A lot of people, myself included, thought Kendricks wasn't going to be long for the roster. Immediately after the Brandon Boykin trade, many people were talking about how Kendricks was going to be next. But that obviously wasn't the case. Kelly made a great decision by choosing to keep Kendricks around.

It's unclear how the Eagles will use DeMeco Ryans

One of the main reasons everyone thought the Eagles might trade Kendricks is because the team re-signed Ryans to an extension. Why would the team do that if they were ready to pass the torch to Kendricks and Alonso?

The 31-year-old Ryans is coming off his second career Achilles injury. Chip Kelly has often cited Ryans' leadership ability as to why he's so important to the team. With that in mind, it's hard to see Ryans simply serving as a bench player. One would figure he will rotate in to some extent. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis has suggested the Eagles might be able to use all three inside linebackers at once on certain plays.

Some have theorized the reason the Eagles extended Kendricks is partially because Ryans has looked worse off this summer than the team anticipated at the time of re-signing him. Ryans has yet to suit up for a preseason game thus far.

Jordan Hicks is buried on the depth chart, for now

Along with the Ryans extension, the other reason people thought Kendricks was going to get traded is that the team drafted a potential long-term replacement in the third round: inside linebacker Jordan Hicks. But now that Kendricks and Alonso aren't going anywhere, and Ryans is still around in the short-term, where does Hicks fit in?

For now, Hicks will have to make his living on special teams. He probably won't see a lot of action on defense, barring injury. So did the Eagles waste a third round pick on them, then?

Not necessarily. Think back to last year when the team was ravaged by injuries at inside linebacker. The Eagles were counting on Casey Matthews (everyone's favorite) and Emmanuel Acho to hold down the fort. Philadelphia doesn't want to have that situation happen again. And with Alonso, Kendricks, and Ryans each having different degrees of past injury issues, having Hicks around can't hurt.

The Eagles front seven is stacked

Play-makers Alonso and Kendricks on the inside, with a savvy veteran like Ryans as depth. The beastly star Fletcher Cox and run-stuffing stud Cedric Thornton at defensive end. Emerging talent Bennie Logan in the middle at nose tackle. Powerful pass rusher Brandon Graham and versatile jack-of-all-trades Connor Barwin on the edge. The explosive Vinny Curry rotating in off the bench to provide even more pass rush. Yep, this is one formidable unit. Combine this with an improved secondary, and the Eagles aren't that far off from having a top five defense in the NFL.