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Star-Telegram.com

Cowboys sign safety Brodney Pool, linebacker Dan Connor

Posted Thursday, Mar. 15, 2012

By Charean Williams

cjwilliams@star-telegram.com

One little, two little, three little Cowboys. Four little, five little, six little Cowboys.

The signings just keep on coming.

Dallas continued to add to its 2012 roster, signing two more players, New York Jets safety Brodney Pool and Carolina Panthers inside linebacker Dan Connor. With six signings, Dallas has been as active as it has ever been since unfettered free agency began in 1993. (The Cowboys also signed six free agents in 2003 and '06.)

The Cowboys did not let the $10 million salary-cap hit they took from the Management Council Executive Committee on the eve of free agency deter them.

"The No. 1 thing we always try to be in a position to do is, regardless of the situation, do the things that we need to do to make us a better football team for the upcoming season," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said in a conference call Thursday. "Obviously, getting the cap hit, you have to deal with that, and there are ramifications of that. But it's not going to stop us from being able to do the things we have to do to be a championship-caliber football team in 2012."

Jones said the Cowboys will take a $5 million cap hit this season with $5 million coming off next season.

But parting ways with cornerback Terence Newman and kickoff specialist David Buehler and restructuring the contracts of right tackle Doug Free and cornerback Orlando Scandrick earlier this week gave the Cowboys the cap room they needed.

In the six free-agent signings, the Cowboys have committed more than $77 million in contracts and $19 million in signing bonuses.

Former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Carr received a $10 million signing bonus as part of the $26.5 million the Cowboys have guaranteed him in his five-year, $50.1 million deal. Former Chiefs quarterback Kyle Orton signed a three-year, $10.5 million deal, with $5 million to sign.

The Cowboys filled other needs in signing fullback Lawrence Vickers (two years, $2.4 million), guard Mackenzy Bernadeau (four years, $11 million), Pool (one year, $1.2 million) and Connor (two years).

"We're excited about the guys we've signed," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We've targeted a lot of these guys. We wanted to address some needs on our team, but we wanted to address them with the right guys.

"We've made some changes over the last year. We had certain guys on our roster who we really liked, but as they get older, money plays a factor in all these evaluations. We've had to move on from guys over the last year or so. They are guys we like a lot, but that's the nature of the NFL. So we've had to do that again coming into this off-season, and those aren't always easy moves to make.

"But the critical thing for us to decide to make those moves is: What's the next move? Who are you bringing in? We really feel like we want to bring the right guys in. In Carr, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Kyle Orton, Lawrence Vickers, Brodney Pool [and Dan Connor], we really like those guys and potentially what their roles can be.

"We're going to try to create competition throughout our roster, and we feel like these guys can really do that with the players we have right now and the players we will potentially draft."

Pool, 27, will replace Abe Elam as the team's strong safety. Connor, 26, will compete with Bruce Carter for the starting inside linebacker job that Keith Brooking and Bradie James shared last season.

The Cowboys had Cincinnati Bengals guard Nate Livings in town Thursday but have yet to work out a deal. The Cowboys have no other visits set up, according to a source.

They do, however, still have needs to fill with a No. 3 receiver and a third tight end. They lost Laurent Robinson, their No. 3 receiver last season, and Martellus Bennett, their backup tight end, in free agency Wednesday. Robinson signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Bennett left for the New York Giants.

Garrett said the Cowboys have interest in re-signing receiver Kevin Ogletree, who visited the Giants on Thursday, but they have no tight end they are "specifically ... targeting to bring in."

Charean Williams

817-390-7760

Twitter: @NFLCharean

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