The Dallas Cowboys had all but helped veteran free agent linebackers Keith Brooking and Bradie James pack their bags when Brooking said the Cowboys have expressed interest in bringing him back for the 2012 season. The Cowboys drafted Sean Lee and Bruce Carter in the last two NFL Drafts to replace Brooking and James, but now it appears Jerry Jones might be making another ill-advised move in re-signing at least one of the elder linebackers.
“I don’t think Jerry Jones is a liar,” Brooking said. “I know Jason Garrett is not, but they could have said that just to make my agent feel better.”
Jones may not be a “liar”, but Cowboys fans know he often says things that aren’t completely and totally true. In this rare case, the Dallas faithful should hope Jones was indeed lying to Brooking; the Cowboys may not be extremely deep at linebacker, but Brooking is too far past his prime to do any good – and that’s coming from a huge Brooking fan.
That’s not to knock the guy; Brooking was an absolute stud at linebacker, but you have to follow the old saying “leave the game before the game leaves you”. The game has left Brooking, whether he or anyone else denies that. I’ve never seen a five-time Pro Bowl linebacker miss as many tackles as he did in 2011.
To be fair, the Cowboys have no business bringing back James, either. While he was a little better tackler than Brooking this past season, James’ pass coverage skills resemble that of a seventh grade defensive tackle. Dallas media guys always say “throw it to the guys Bradie James is covering!” when opposing teams are in the red zone.
In short, the Cowboys need to move on from Bradie James and Keith Brooking. Jerry Jones keeps talking about making a big splash in free agency, but re-signing one or both of these older guys would be far from that. If Jones wants to make a big splash in free agency, he should open up that gigantic checkbook of his and sign Houston Texans free agent pass rusher Mario Williams. That’s a totally different column, but it’s just mentioning the two extremes in this situation. Brooking’s and James’ time in Dallas is over and Jones needs to realize that if he hasn’t already.