Cowboys completely botched reuniting Mike Zimmer with former star defender

Dec 20, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer looks on in the
Dec 20, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer looks on in the / Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

We would love nothing more than to spread positivity to Dallas Cowboys fans. That just isn't possible as Jerry Jones and Co. continue to pinch their pennies. Fans held out hope entering the legal tampering period that Mike Zimmer's influence would help lure big-name free agents to the Cowboys.

If nothing else, it was widely assumed that Zimmer would recruit some players from his days as Vikings head coach to come play in Dallas. The jury is still out on that, but the options are wearing increasingly thin as free agents are dropping like flies on day three of the frenzy.

One signing that felt like a lock was linebacker Eric Kendricks, whom the cap-stricken Chargers released a few weeks ago. Kendricks was the nucleus of Zimmer's Vikings defenses and the Cowboys have maybe the worst linebacker room in the league as currently constituted.

Signing Kendricks felt like an obvious move, but it's no longer an option after he inked a one-year contract with the 49ers on Wednesday.

Cowboys botched reuniting LB Erick Kendricks with Mike Zimmer

It's bad enough that the Cowboys let Kendricks get away. The fact he ended up in San Francisco makes it that much more humiliating for Jerry Jones. The 49ers have a monstrous hole at linebacker after thumper Dre Greenlaw suffered a freak torn Achilles while jogging onto the field in the Super Bowl.

It's unclear when or if Greenlaw will return in 2024, but signing Kendricks gives the reigning NFC champions a proper placeholder for All-Pro Fred Warner while Greenlaw works his way back.

This just speaks to the ineptitude of Dallas' front office. The 49ers already have an all-world talent at linebacker in Warner and still pushed the envelope to bring in another high-level starter. Kendricks isn't the same player he was in Minnesota, but he put together a strong season with the Chargers in 2023.

In 15 games, Kendricks accumulated 117 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a 73.6 run-defense grade, per Pro Football Focus. He missed just seven tackles, which was tied for the fewest among linebackers, and his 82.5 pass-rush grade placed fourth at the position.

Again, Kendricks isn't the perennial Pro Bowler he was in his prime, but he's a upgrade over what the Cowboys have on the roster. While Leighton Vander Esch mulls his future after another season-ending neck injury and assuming Markquese Bell is moved back to safety, Damone Clark and DeMarvion Overshown are Dallas' only two linebackers.

While coaches are high on Overshown, the 2023 third-round pick is coming off a torn ACL. Can we say with absolute certainty he'll have an immediate impact? Furthermore, Clark didn't have the sophomore year that was expected of him.

Missing on Kendricks won't make or break the Cowboys' free agency, but the linebacker pool is thinning fast. Kendricks fits Zimmer's scheme like a glove and would've given Dallas' new defensive coordinator a needed enforcer in the second level of the defense.

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