The Cleveland Browns have released linebacker Mychal Kendricks after he was charged Wednesday with insider trading by federal prosecutors to make nearly $1.2 million in illegal profits on four major investments four years ago.
In a statement, the Browns said they were aware of Kendricks' involvement prior to signing him to a one-year deal in June, but "circumstances have changed" and the team has elected to release him.
Kendricks apologized earlier Wednesday in a statement shortly after the announcement by U.S. Attorney William McSwain, admitting to insider trading and saying he accepts "full responsibility for my actions" and that he "knew it was wrong."
Damilare Sonoiki, a television writer, also has been charged with assisting Kendricks in his investments.
McSwain, the U.S. Attorney for the District Court of Eastern Pennsylvania, said both Kendricks and Sonoiki face "substantial prison time" if convicted.
"I would like to apologize," Kendricks said in the statement released by his attorneys. "Four years ago, I participated in insider trading, and I deeply regret it. I invested money with a former friend of mine who I thought I could trust and who I greatly admired. His background as a Harvard graduate and an employee of Goldman Sachs gave me a false sense of confidence.
"To this point, I had worked my tail off since I was 5 years old to become a football player. I was drawn in by the allure of being more than just a football player. While I didn't fully understand all of the details of the illegal trades, I knew it was wrong, and I wholeheartedly regret my actions."
Kendricks, 27, said he has cooperated with the authorities and "will continue to do so." He also said he would repay all of the illegally gained funds.
Kendricks spent his first six seasons with the Eagles before being released by Philadelphia in May. A source told ESPN's Tim McManus the team was aware Kendricks was being investigated prior to his release.
"I sincerely apologize to my coaches, the owners, and my teammates on the Eagles and the Browns, the NFL, and the magnificent fans to whom I owe my career," Kendricks said in the statement. "I also apologize to my family, who I have failed in this. You all deserve better, and I will work my hardest to re-earn your trust and respect, serve as an advocate to educate others, and show you that I will never be involved in anything like this again."
According to prosecutors, Sonokoi is a former investment banking analyst at a large investment bank who tipped Kendricks to four corporate acquisitions from the bank from July 2014 to November 2014.
In exchange for the illegal tips, prosecutors say Kendricks gave Sonoiki $10,000 in cash kickbacks, along with additional perks such as tickets to Eagles games and a luxury car service.