The Vikings drafted linebacker Eric Kendricks in 2015, and he quickly cemented himself as an invaluable piece of former head coach Mike Zimmer's once-vaunted defense.
But Kendricks, speaking Monday afternoon, suggested his bond with the notoriously unsentimental former head coach had become strained.
"We put a lot of work in together. We had a great run," Kendricks said when asked about his relationship with Zimmer. "It's hard to know that, I feel like there were some things left out there as far as our relationship's concerned. But I think that's a question you've got to ask him."
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Kendricks has spent his entire career to this point under Zimmer, and in 2019 was named to both the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams. Viewed as a leader on the Vikings defense, Kendricks called the 2021-22 season a disappointment with "a lot of ups and downs."
He was also asked about the team's culture: If it has changed, and what he believes makes a good culture.
Kendricks said winning games plays a big part. He highlighted communication as a critical piece, however, saying everyone — no matter their role — should be able to have a voice and offer their insight on how to help the team win.
And in a comment already raising eyebrows, he concluded: "I don't think that a fear-based organization is the way to go."
NFL reporter Jason La Confora, adding to Purple Insider's Matthew Coller's tweet, commented: "Expect to hear more of this."
Kendricks said he had not spoken to Zimmer Monday since his afternoon press conference. He had touched base with Rick Spielman however, saying he thanked the now-former GM for his support on and off the field, particularly surrounding social justice issues.
Kendricks also said he had a phone call with Adam Zimmer, Mike Zimmer's son and the Vikings' co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach this past season.