No endorsements for Bradie James, Keith Brooking

March, 28, 2012
3/28/12
2:59
PM ET

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Cowboys' two trusted veteran inside linebackers, Bradie James and Keith Brooking, were both free agents following the 2011 season.

Each player knew the Cowboys might move on from them.

It seems with the free-agent signing of Dan Connor and now with coach Jason Garrett not giving an endorsement of their possible returns in 2012, it could be the ending of the two veterans' run in Dallas.

Not a surprise.

"We like those guys," Garrett said Wednesday morning, the final day of the NFL owners' meetings. "Those guys have done a lot of really good things for our football team and as the offseason unfolds and we go through the draft and continue to put our team together, we’ll continue to evaluate those situations."

The Cowboys could draft an inside linebacker or find someone in free agency at a cheaper rate.

Brooking has offered to play mainly on special teams and on spot duty on defense, but it doesn't appear the Cowboys are in favor of doing that.

Garrett is open to linebackers playing on special teams, something Sean Lee did last season, but you also want effective play on defense, too.

Age is another factor. James is 31 and Brooking turns 37 in October.

Bruce Carter is 24, Lee is 25 and Connor 26.

"What we’re trying to do is bring as many good players into our team that we can," Garrett said. "Dan Connor was a guy who we targeted from Carolina. Penn State linebacker, really a natural instinctive football player. He reads and recognizes things, makes a lot of plays. He’s the right kind of guy, a productive player. We had an opportunity to pursue him, we did that."
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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