A Reunion of Former Vikings Set to Take Place in Dallas

Nov 22, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) celebrates after making an interception against the Dalles Cowboys in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier on Wednesday, it appeared that former Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks would be joining the San Francisco 49ers for the 2024 season.

The presumed signing was reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN, who tweeted, “49ers are signing former Chargers LB Eric Kendricks to a one-year deal, per source. Kendricks was a Chargers captain last season, when he started 14 games and finished second on the team with 117 tackles.”

It made a lot of sense for San Francisco to be a landing spot for Kendricks. It would allow him to remain in his home state of California while also competing for a Super Bowl with the team that just won the NFC Championship a month and a half ago.

However, it appears that Kendricks has changed his mind, and it’s for a reason that makes an equal amount of sense for the linebacker. Instead of joining the 49ers, Kendricks is going to head to Dallas and play for the Cowboys, reuniting with his former Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.

A Reunion of Former Vikings in Dallas

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Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The change of plans was reported by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, who tweeted, “Plot twist! Veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks is now expected to sign with the #Cowboys, per sources. The #49ers made a strong offer. But Kendricks is opting to reunite with Mike Zimmer, who gets an experienced LB to help run his defense.”

Zimmer, who held the Vikings head coaching role for eight seasons, was hired in 2014 to take on the job of rebuilding in Minnesota. He did that by putting together ferocious defenses along with a bruising running game, and one of the key pieces of those teams was Kendricks.

The Vikings selected Kendricks in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Over his eight seasons in Minnesota, Kendricks started 113 games for the Vikings, recording 919 tackles, 54 TFLs, 15 sacks, 51 PDs, 9 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles, and 6 fumble recoveries.

Former Vikings
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2019 season, Kendricks was named an All-Pro playing in a defense that allowed the fifth-fewest points in the NFL while also making the playoffs and claiming an upset Wild Card win in New Orleans.

Unfortunately, those once-powerful defenses that Zimmer put together in the late 2010s began to age out, and as a result, the Vikings put together losing seasons in both 2020 and 2021. Zimmer was fired following that year, and a year later, Minnesota opted to let Kendricks go after the 2022 season as a salary cap casualty.

Zimmer has spent the past two outside of coaching, but he landed the defensive coordinator gig with the Cowboys earlier this offseason. As for Kendricks, he spent the 2023 season with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Mike Zimmer
Oct 17, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer on the sidelines in the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Now, both coach and player reunite in Dallas as they try to make one more run for a Super Bowl together with a team that has finished each of the past three seasons with a 12-5 record before disappointing playoff exits.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.