FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys have agreed to terms with Mike Zimmer to become the team's new defensive coordinator, the team can confirm, as the two came to an agreement on Monday afternoon after it was initially announced that he was the choice on Thursday evening.
Zimmer, 67, returns to Dallas – where he was the defensive coordinator from 2000 to 2006 and a defensive assistant for seven years prior – to assist Mike McCarthy as he heads into the fifth and final year of his contract with the team.
While it did take a few days for Zimmer to come to terms with the team, the two sides were able to get the deal done following a Super Bowl weekend that saw Jerry Jones and the front office make the trip to Las Vegas. Rex Ryan – who was interviewed for the position last Tuesday – said on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown on Sunday morning that the deal was still not finalized as the two worked towards an agreement, but that deal was signed on Monday once Jones and the front office were able to get back in the building.
Zimmer replaces Dan Quinn – who took the head coaching position with the Washington Commanders on Feb. 1 – after being out of the NFL since 2021. After leaving Dallas in 2006, Zimmer was the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals from 2008 to 2013 before being the head coach for the Minnesota Vikings from 2014 to 2021. His eight seasons as a head coach saw him lead the Vikings to the playoffs three times including an appearance in the NFC Championship Game in 2017.
At each stop that Zimmer has made as either a defensive coordinator or head coach, he has brought multiple top-five total defense seasons with the Cowboys being first and fourth in total defense in 2001 and 2003, respectively, the Bengals being third and fourth in 2013 and 2009, respectively, and the Vikings being first, third and fourth in 2017, 2016 and 2018, respectively.
Zimmer inherits a defense that has three First-Team All-Pro players in Micah Parsons, DaRon Bland and Trevon Diggs as well as a healthy amount of talent around them. Key decisions loom this offseason, such as the team's decision on key free agents such as Stephon Gilmore, Jourdan Lewis, Jayron Kearse and Johnathan Hankins as well as draft decisions that could help Dallas better defend the run in 2024. As a coordinator or head coach, Zimmer has boasted seven defenses in 22 seasons that have finished in the top-10 of rushing defense.
Zimmer is expected to arrive in Dallas later this week to officially begin his second tenure in Dallas.