Thursday, March 15, 2012
Dan Connor, Brodney Pool sign
By Todd Archer and Calvin Watkins
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys continue to be aggressive in their free-agent pursuits, reaching a deal with inside linebacker Dan Connor, according to a source, after signing safety Brodney Pool earlier in the day.
Connor is the sixth free agent to reach a deal with the Cowboys in the past two days, joining Brandon Carr, Kyle Orton, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Lawrence Vickers and Pool.
The last time the Cowboys signed this many unrestricted free agents came in 2006, when they added Akin Ayodele, Rocky Boiman, Jason Fabini, Ryan Hannam, Kyle Kosier and Mike Vanderjagt.
Connor has spent the past two days at Valley Ranch visiting with coaches and front office officials. Connor spent his first four seasons with the Carolina Panthers, starting 19 games after the team made him a third-round pick in 2008.
In 15 games (11 starts) last season, Connor had 87 tackles and a forced fumble. He missed most of his rookie season with a serious knee injury.
The signing is interesting because the Cowboys used a second-round pick last year on Bruce Carter, who was coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Carter played in 10 games last year mostly in a special teams role, finishing with eight tackles. Defensively, he had one tackle and a pass deflection.
The Cowboys have preached their happiness with Connor's progress, but he would at least represent some veteran protection to play alongside Sean Lee, a fellow Penn State alum.
The move closes the door on the team possibly bringing back veterans Keith Brooking and Bradie James.
Pool, who signed a one-year deal for $1.1 million, played the past two seasons with the New York Jets and drew the Cowboys' attention last summer as a free agent. He played for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in Cleveland before spending 2010-11 with the Jets and Ryan's brother, Rex.
He will be paired with Gerald Sensabaugh, who played free safety in 2011. The Cowboys expect to play Pool at strong safety.
Pool had three pass breakups, one interception and four quarterback hurries in addition to 37 tackles and a half sack.
"He makes a lot of plays in the passing game and we have a familiarity with him," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We think (he) has very good ball skills and is very good on the back end. He's a guy who can come down and do all the jobs that a safety in our defensive scheme has to do. ...
"We feel like he can be a real asset for our team."
Todd Archer and Calvin Watkins cover the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.