Cowboys reportedly get on outside free agent board, expected to sign LB Eric Kendricks

cowboys INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 16: Eric Kendricks #6 of the Los Angeles Chargers looks on during pregame warmups before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys at SoFi Stadium on October 16, 2023 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images)

The Dallas Cowboys are signing veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks, making them the last team to reach an agreement with an outside free agent, per multiple reports Wednesday.

Kendricks is joining the team on a one-year deal, according to Jon Machota of The Athletic. This comes after the San Francisco 49ers were set to sign Kendricks early Wednesday morning, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The 32-year-old had a "change of heart," Schefter later reported.

The move to Dallas will reunite Kendricks with new Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who he played under for seven seasons during his time with the Minnesota Vikings.

Zimmer was fired as head coach of the Vikings before the 2022 season, which saw Kendricks record a team-high 137 tackles in 17 starts. When asked about Zimmer's firing, Kendricks didn't speak positively about his leadership, saying that he didn't think a "fear-based organization" was the way to go. Interestingly, when picking between NFC rivals this week, Kendricks picked the team with Zimmer at the helm of its defense.

Zimmer and Kendricks' working relationship began in 2015, when the Vikings selected the UCLA product in the second round of the NFL Draft. Kendricks went on to become a Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection in 2019. The team cut Kendricks to help save money under the salary cap last offseason.

Kendricks signed a two-year, $13.25 million contract with the Los Angeles Chargers last March. He started in all but one of the 15 games he played during the most recent campaign, recording 117 tackles and 3.5 sacks. It was his eighth straight season with over 100 tackles. He was released due to salary cap constraints once again this offseason.

The California native will have a necessary role on the Cowboys' defense after rookie linebacker DeMarvion Overshown sustained a knee injury in training camp and didn't play in a single game last season. Fellow linebacker Leighton Vander Esch played in just five games due to a neck injury.

That said, Kendricks' addition highlighted an unexpectedly slow start in free agency for the Cowboys, which didn't quite align with owner Jerry Jones' claim at the end of last season that the team would be "all-in" for the 2024 campaign.