Cowboys first free agent signing feels painfully obvious thanks to Mike Zimmer

Cleveland Browns v Minnesota Vikings
Cleveland Browns v Minnesota Vikings / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys aren't expected to be "all-in" this offseason like Jerry Jones promised. Shocking, right? The pledge seemingly referenced extensions for cornerstone players and the fact most of Dallas' coaching staff, including defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, is on one-year contracts.

One could argue, though, that the Zimmer hire is a pseudo all-in move. It certainly wasn't made with an eye on the future. If there was an available DC that can find flash in a pan and maximize this defense's potential for a possible deep playoff run, it's Zimmer.

With free agency on the horizon, Cowboys fans are waiting with baited breath to see Zimmer's influence in the frenzy. There are a number of Vikings free agents that Zimmer can recruit, but very few would be a good fit.

Edge rusher Danielle Hunter will be far too expensive, while linebacker Anthony Barr appeared in just four games in 2023 as he spent most of the campaign on the practice squad.

There is, however, one Zimmer disciple who is now available and he feels like the first player the Cowboys will sign in free agency.

Cowboys could reunite Eric Kendricks with Mike Zimmer in free agency

Kendricks was nucleus of the Vikings defense for seven years under Zimmer, culminating in a First-Team All-Pro nod in 2019 when he posted 110 tackles, 12 passes defended, four tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.

Now 32 years old, Kendricks obviously isn't the same player he was back then, but he was a bright spot on an otherwise dismal Chargers defense last season. In 15 games, he produced 117 tackles and a 73.6 run-defense grade to go with a 82.5 pass-rush grade that ranked fourth amongst linebackers, per Pro Football Focus. His seven missed tackles were also tied for the fewest at the position.

The only reason Kendricks got released is because the Chargers are starved for cap space. The move provides $6.5 million in cap relief and they're still $19.5 million over the cap. With decisions looming on Mike Williams, Khalik Mack and Joey Bosa, Kendricks was likely the first of multiple Chargers cap dominos to fall before the new league year.

Kendricks would be a great addition to the Cowboys. He knows Zimmer's defense and proved last season he can still be the crux of a defense. Signing a 32-year-old to "save" the linebacker room would be a gamble. Dallas should absolutely sign another veteran and draft a prospect.

In a vacuum, though, Kendricks is still excellent against the run and would be a notable upgrade to Leighton Vander Esch in the MLB role. Reuniting the former second-round pick with Zimmer makes all the sense in the world.

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