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The Dallas Cowboys haven't been very busy in free agency this year, but one player they did manage to sign was former Chargers linebacker Eric Kendricks, who they stole away from the San Francisco 49ers

When free agency started back in mid-March, Kendricks originally agreed to terms on a deal with the 49ers, but after thinking things over, the linebacker decided to spurn San Francisco so that he could sign with the Cowboys. 

So why did he make that decision? 

It seems that it came down to two reasons. First, it appears that Kendricks felt that he would have a better chance at more playing time in Dallas. 

"I think I would've taken more of a reserve role [in San Francisco], where as I feel I have a lot left to give and I wanted to be here and be middle linebacker," Kendricks said this week, via The Athletic. "I wanted to share my experience with the team, share my leadership abilities and command that huddle."

In San Francisco, the 49ers almost certainly viewed Kendricks as insurance for Dre Greenlaw. The 49ers linebacker tore his Achilles in the team's Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs and it's not clear when he'll be back able to return. Greenlaw probably won't be on the field to start the season, which means Kendricks definitely would have seen some playing time, but that playing time likely would have been cut down once Greenlaw was healthy enough to play. 

The other reason Kendricks decided to sign with Dallas is because it will reunite him with Mike Zimmer, who's the new defensive coordinator for the Cowboys. Kendricks spent eight seasons in Minnesota with Zimmer, who used to be the head coach of the Vikings

"I feel like me and Zimm have had our times where we've even butted heads," Kendricks said after he signed in March. "Just the fact that I'm back with him shows you that I believe in him and he believes in me and we want to get the job done. Ultimately, playing the best football and winning a championship is our ultimate goal and that's why I'm back with him."

Although the two butted heads at times, Kendricks said that he became a smarter football player because of Zimmer. 

"The level of detail and the amount of football that I learned with Zimm was tremendous," Kendricks said after he signed in March. "I feel like I'll never take that for granted and that's why I'm back with him right now. ... I'm very excited to play, it's obviously the sport I grew up playing. Love playing middle linebacker. I'm happy I'm able to be in Coach Zimm's system again. It felt right."

In Dallas, Kendricks will essentially be taking over for Leighton Vander Esch, who was forced to retire in March due to persistent neck injuries

The Cowboys have ranked in the top five in fewest points allowed in each of the past two seasons and both Kendricks and Zimmer will be looking to keep that streak alive in 2024.