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Opportunity knocks for Banks in Dallas

PALM DESERT, Calif. -- Tony Banks was given something by the Dallas Cowboys that money apparently can't buy -- an opportunity.

Tony Banks
Tony Banks started the first eight games for the Ravens in 2000.

Banks has agreed to a one-year, $500,000 contract with the Cowboys that, contrary to reports, is not laden with incentives, according to sources familiar with negotiations. The Cowboys did not have an interest in giving Banks "unlikely-to-be-earned incentives" that traditionally have padded salary-cap strained contracts.

"We give him something other teams can't give him right now -- an opportunity to be a starting quarterback in the NFL," said a team source. "If he does well, he'll get a chance for another contract."

The Cowboys chose Banks over Steve Beuerlein, who was released by the Carolina Panthers. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones also had an interest in ex-Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf, who is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Banks' signing makes it more unlikely that the Cowboys will bring back Randall Cunningham. The team wants to further develop Anthony Wright as a backup and also intends to draft a quarterback next month. Clint Stoerner, another quarterback on the roster, will be challenged to make the team.

Banks has worked previously in St. Louis with Cowboys offensive coordinator Jack Reilly. Cowboys coach Dave Campo wants to rebuild the team around defense and a more committed running game, but they did want the strong-armed Banks because they possess two speed receivers in Joey Galloway and Raghib "Rocket" Ismail. The team also expects to sign 30-year-old veteran Carl Pickens.

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