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Cowboys add Mike Zimmer as DC after hiring uncertainty

The Cowboys reached an agreement Monday with Mike Zimmer to name former Minnesota Vikings coach Dallas new defensive coordinator.

“I’m excited and honored to be back with a great organization,” Zimmer told ESPN’s Ed Werder. “I’m excited to work with Mike McCarthy, who I had a lot of respect for during my NFC North days, and do everything I can to help the Joneses and the Cowboys.”

A source confirmed to ESPN last week that Zimmer is expected to be hired as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator. But ESPN analyst Rex Ryan, who had talked to the team about the position, said Sunday on ESPN’s “Postseason NFL Countdown”: “I’m not sure Zimmer has that position. right now. I’m not sure. I can honestly say I don’t believe that’s a fact at the moment.”

And on Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Cowboys contacted Ryan on Sunday about the position.

However, Zimmer and the Cowboys agreed to terms of the contract Monday afternoon. He replaces Dan Quinn, who was hired last week as the Commanders’ new coach after three years as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator.

Zimmer, 67, was an assistant coach with the Cowboys from 1994 to 2006, starting as a defensive assistant, moving to defensive backs in 1995 — the last season in which Dallas won a Super Bowl — and as coordinator from 2000 to 2006 under two different head coaches, Dave Campo (2000-02) and Bill Parcells (2003-06).

From 2014 to 2021, Zimmer served as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, compiling a 74-59-1 record that included three playoff appearances. His time in the NFC North made him become more familiar with McCarthy, then coach of the Green Bay Packers.

Zimmer is the third defensive coordinator McCarthy will have in five seasons. Mike Nolan held the position in 2020 but was replaced by Quinn after the Cowboys gave up a franchise-record 473 points. Quinn oversaw a defense that led the NFL in takeaways in 2021 and 2022 while helping the Cowboys to three straight 12-5 seasons and three trips to the playoffs.

ESPN’s Todd Archer contributed to this report.

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