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Browns announce release of Mychal Kendricks hours after news of insider trading charges

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The Cleveland Browns announced Wednesday that they had cut linebacker Mychal Kendricks, less than 12 hours after news broke that Kendricks had been hit with federal charges for insider trading.

Kendricks is accused of making about $1.2 million through investments with an acquaintance named Damilare Sonoiki. Kendricks is expected to plead guilty to a criminal scheme that involved trading cash kickbacks, NFL tickets and invitations to celebrity-filled events for inside stock tips, according to Philly.com. Those tips reportedly included confidential information about four companies that were eventually acquired in deals that netted investors major profits.

The 27-year-old Kendricks signed a one-year deal with the Browns worth up to $3.5 million this offseason after a six-year tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles that culminated in the franchise’s first Super Bowl. Up to that point, Kendricks had made an estimated $20 million in cash over the course of his career, according to Spotrac.

Browns release statement on Mychal Kendricks

Browns GM John Dorsey released the following statement on Kendricks’ situation:

Prior to signing Mychal, we were informed that there was a financial situation that he had been involved with in 2014. We were told Mychal had fully cooperated with investigators as a victim. From what was communicated at that time and based on the numerous questions we asked and further due diligence on our part, including checking with the league office, there was no information discovered that conveyed otherwise.

Recently, we were provided an update on the matter and the circumstances have changed. We are now dealing with a different set of facts and the additional information we’ve gathered has led us to the decision to release Mychal from our team. Due to the ongoing legal nature of this situation, we will have no further comments.

It appears that the Browns were told that Kendricks was more of a victim than conspirator in the scheme with Sonoiki, but updated information led them to believe that cutting ties with Kendricks was their best option going forward.

Kendricks was a significant part of the Eagles’ stout defense, racking up 51 total tackles, six pass deflections and two sacks. Pro Football Focus gave the versatile defender a top-10 grade among linebackers.

Mychal Kendricks faces charges punishable by up to 25 years in prison. (AP Photo)
Mychal Kendricks faces charges punishable by up to 25 years in prison. (AP Photo)

Mychal Kendricks releases statement on insider trading allegations

Kendricks himself commented on the surreal situation this morning, releasing a statement to Yahoo Sports’ Jordan Schultz in which he apologized and admitted to participating in and insider trading scheme. He called Sonoiki a former friend who he though he could trust and claimed to not fully understand the details of the illegal trades.

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What punishment does Mychal Kendricks face?

Per Philly.com, both Kendricks and Soroiki face charges that are punishable up to 25 years in prison. One legal analyst told CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin that he estimates Kendricks to serve 8-12 months in prison instead, and that an advisory sentence could go longer, but also include sweeteners like a split sentence, house arrest and community service.

Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann also wrote that he expected Kendricks to see nowhere near the maximum prison sentence, though penalties could also include “a three-year period of supervised release and a $5.3 million fine.”

Kendricks has already lost his job with the NFL, and he would be very unlikely to find a new team as long as a potential prison sentence is hanging over his head. There’s no word yet on if the NFLintends to step in and add another punishment to Kendricks’ plate.

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