I’m not sure what the Cowboys have in 2011 2nd round pick LB Bruce Carter, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Cowboys don’t, either. Last season, the Cowboys got great play from one of their inside linebackers, Sean Lee, but the revolving door duo of Bradie James and Keith Brooking at the other ILB spot was a train wreck. Both players showed serious decline and were flat out overmatched. Neither player is likely to be back. During the season, I often wondered how much worse it could possibly get if they just threw Carter into the mix instead of continuing to trot out two players that kept giving you the same crappy results. Apparently, the Cowboys weren’t comfortable enough to give Carter a chance, as he had a grand total of 41 defensive snaps in 2011.
By bringing in Dan Connor, the Cowboys have a very good run stopper, and can utilize him situationally, while mixing in Carter as they see fit. Also (not that I think this matters all that much), Lee and Connor were teammates at Penn State. During Connor’s senior season at Happy Valley, Connor had 145 tackles and 6 sacks. Lee, a junior at the time, had 138 tackles, 3 sacks, and 3 FF. The next closest player in tackles had 70.
If there was any doubt that James or Brooking weren’t coming back, I think we can pretty much slam the door on that now.
It appears the Eagles had some interest in Connor as well, but had a less competitive offer on the table: