After a slow first day in free agency for the Cowboys they have been busy filling holes and adding depth to the team. Here are the newest members of the Cowboys family.
Brandon Carr, CB
The biggest signing was cornerback Brandon Carr who signed for five years after spending his first four years in the league with the Chiefs. Carr, who is only 25 years old, will take the place of recently released Terence Newman. In Carr’s four years he has eight interceptions, four of them coming in 2011. Carr will team up with Mike Jenkins who is coming off an injury plagued season in 2011. With added youth to the Cowboys secondary in Carr plus his big play ability the Cowboys secondary should improve in 2012.
“From the moment they came and got me to the moment I got to the stadium, it was just red-carpet treatment,” Carr said. “They showed they wanted me. They were genuine with their words. That played a part in the process and my decision-making. The stadium is phenomenal – the best in the world. I’m excited to get in the uniform, get in the stadium and get to work.”
“I’m ecstatic. It’s been a long, long time and I’ve been waiting for this opportunity,” Carr said Wednesday in between signing his contract and watching more tape with the defensive coaches. “To not only secure myself financially, but also to elevate my game to be at the highest level, which is the Dallas Cowboys. Now it’s time to turn my game up another notch.”
Kyle Orton, QB
The Cowboys added a quality backup to Tony Romo in Kyle Orton who signed a three year contract. With the retirement of John Kitna this off-season the Cowboys needed to bring in someone who would be ready to take over in the event of an injury to Romo. Although Stephen McGee has done a nice job filling in for Romo when called on, the Cowboys felt that more was needed. In Kyle Orton, who is 29 years old they get an eight year veteran who has started for the Bears, Broncos and Chiefs. He has thrown for over 14,000 yards in his career, twice throwing for over 3,000 yards in 2009 and 2010. He has also thrown 80 touchdowns and only 57 interceptions. Orton provides the Cowboys with a quality backup with the experience needed to get the job done if called upon.
Lawrence Vickers, FB
With the possible loss of fullback Tony Fiammetta the Cowboys went out and signed 28 year old Lawrence Vickers to a two year contract. Vickers played his first five seasons in Cleveland before moving onto Houston last season where he led the way for Adrian Foster’s 1,200+ yards rushing. With Fiammetta in the lineup last season the Cowboys rushing game seemed to be at its best and then seems to take a nose dive after he went out for a few games with an inner ear problem. Hopefully with the experience of Vickers as a lead blocker the Cowboys rushing attack with return to what it was with DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones.
Makenzy Bernadeau, G
With the interior of the offensive line in question the Cowboys went out and signed guard Makenzy Bernadeau from the Panthers to a four year contract. Bernadeau spent his first four seasons with the Panthers and started 20 games. He is only 26 years old and will battle for a starting job with players like David Arkin, Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski. Other players like Montrae Holland and Derrick Dockery are unrestricted free agents and may not return to the team.
Brodney Pool, S
Brodney Pool comes over from the NY Jets where he played the last two seasons. He played his first five seasons with the Browns. At 27 years old Pool brings more youth to the Cowboys secondary to go along with newly signed Brandon Carr. Pool played for Rob Ryan in Cleveland in 2009 where he had a career high four interceptions. The Pool signing may also signal the end for Abe Elam who was signed last year to a one year contract and is currently an unrestricted free agent. Pool signed a one year contract with the Cowboys.
Dan Connor, LB
Dan Connor comes over from the Panthers where he has played since 2008 and started 19 games. Eleven of his 19 starts came in 2011. At 26 years old Connor brings more youth and experience to the linebackers as well as depth. Adding Connor means competition with Bruce Carter for the other inside linebacker spot next to Sean Lee. Conner played with Sean Lee while both were at Penn State. It also could mean that veterans Keith Brooking and Bradie James, who are unrestricted free agents, will not be asked back. Terms of Connor’s contract have not been disclosed yet.
Nate Livings, G
The Cowboys continue to add to their interior line with the signing of guard Nate Livings from the Bengals. Living’s has played with the Bengals since 2006 and has started every game the last two seasons. At 30 years old Living’s brings more experience to the offensive line and hopefully added protection for Tony Romo. He was signed to a five year contract.
The Cowboys also lost a few players through Free Agency. Laurent Robinson who caught everyone’s eyes in 2011 including Tony Romo’s has signed with the Jaguars. His offensive production will be missed by the Cowboys, but the Jaguars offered him $32.5 million over five years and that price was just too much for the Cowboys. The Cowboys will give a good look at current players Andre Holmes and Dwayne Harris as the third receiver. There have also been rumors that they will reach out to free agent receiver Early Doucet.
The Cowboys also lost backup tight end Martellus Bennett who signed with the division rival Giants. Bennett never really performed at the level that the Cowboys had hoped for when he was drafted. As for the fans most saw Bennett as a comedian who never took things seriously.
So far the Cowboys have done a nice job in free agency trying to fill some holes on offense and defense. The NFC East will once again be very competitive and the Cowboys will need to be improved to keep up. With the draft a little over a month away the Cowboys hope to improve even more as they are currently sitting with the 14th pick overall.