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Monday, March 5, 2012
What happens if you bring Keith Brooking back?

By Calvin Watkins

Keith Brooking told ESPN Dallas that talk about him returning to the Cowboys in 2012 is "all speculative at this time."

Brooking told CBS 11 the Cowboys have reached out about him possibly coming back to backup at inside linebacker or maybe start alongside Sean Lee.

The Cowboys have spoken with Brooking's agent, Pat Dye, about that happening but the talks should be deemed nothing serious.

From a financial standpoint, it might not cost much. Brooking, who earned a base salary of $2.5 million last season, most likely will take a pay cut. The minimum salary for a veteran of 10-plus years is $925,000. Brooking, should he make the 53-man roster in 2012, will have 15 years of NFL experience.

Now is it worth keeping Brooking, 36, around for at least $925,000 to provide veteran leadership on and off the field? Maybe. It's interesting to note the Cowboys will have Bruce Carter ready to take over the other starting spot next to Lee.

The Cowboys had a first-round grade on Carter last spring but his recovery from ACL surgery lowered his stock in the NFL Draft. Carter has speed and the athletic ability to play inside linebacker.

Keeping Brooking around is insurance.

At what cost?

Does keeping Brooking around mean fewer snaps for Orie Lemon, who spent 2011 on the practice squad?

The Cowboys can also sign a younger version of Brooking in free agency. It's not going to happen in the beginning of the free agency period, but once everything settles a veteran inside linebacker could be available.