Eric Kendricks switches to Cowboys after picking Niners in free agency, AP source says

New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) is sacked by Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Eric Kendricks (6) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) (Michael Dwyer, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

DALLAS – A change of heart from Eric Kendricks has helped the Dallas Cowboys fill one of their biggest needs in free agency.

The free agent linebacker has agreed to join the Cowboys after initially choosing the San Francisco 49ers, a person with knowledge of the deal said Wednesday night.

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Kendricks will have a reunion with new Dallas defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who was the 32-year-old's head coach in Minnesota for his first seven years in the NFL. Kendricks spent nine seasons with the Vikings before playing for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2023.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details of the contract were still be finalized.

Linebacker is among the biggest offseason needs for the Cowboys after Leighton Vander Esch was sidelined in 2023 by another neck injury, a possibly career-ending setback this time.

Kendricks has topped 100 tackles in each of the past eight seasons to tie for the fourth-longest streak of at least 100 tackles since 2000, according to Sportradar. His 1,036 tackles rank third in the NFL in that span, trailing only Bobby Wagner and Lavonte David.

Kendricks had 117 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 3 1/2 sacks and six passes defensed last season for the Chargers.

The Cowboys struggled to stop the run in a third consecutive 12-win playoff season, and it was part of their undoing in another postseason flop.

Green Bay took a big lead in a 48-32 wild-card victory with their passing game and a big mistake from Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, but the Packers' run game helped fuel a second-half rout.

The Cowboys had similar problems against the run in playoff defeats to the 49ers each of the previous two seasons.

Zimmer was coaching the Vikings when they drafted Kendricks in the second round out of UCLA in 2015. He became a starter early in his rookie season and ended up starting 113 of 117 games in Minnesota.

Kendricks spent one more year with the Vikings after Zimmer was fired following the 2021 season.



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