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Cowboys have a backup plan


Cowboys have a backup plan
Moving swiftly to fill immediate needs on both sides of the ball, the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday traded for Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna and signed free-agent linebacker Keith Brooking to a three-year deal worth roughly $6 million with $2.5 million guaranteed.


The moves vaulted the Cowboys back into the news a day after division rival Washington dominated early free-agency chatter with the signing of former Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth to a stunning seven-year, $100 million contract.

The Cowboys acquired Kitna to be Tony Romo's caddie in a player-for-player swap that sent cornerback Anthony Henry to the woeful Lions.

Kitna, who turns 37 in September, is in the final year of his contract. Henry, 32, was entering the final season of the five-year deal he signed in 2005.

Henry, who had only one interception last season, was expected to count $5.6 million against the salary cap this year. With him gone, the hit will be only about $2 million.

In Kitna, the Cowboys get a 12-year veteran with plenty of experience as a starter, a r?sum? highlighted by consecutive 4,000-yard passing seasons and loads of confidence. It's no stretch to say he's a significant upgrade over the weak-armed, slow-footed 40-year-old Brad Johnson, who the Cowboys released last week.

"We don't want anything to happen to Tony, but if Tony goes down, now we have a great backup," said receiver Roy Williams, who played with Kitna in Detroit.

Kitna is perhaps best known for guaranteeing before the 2007 season that Detroit would win at least 10 games. But the Lions, who were coming off a 3-13 season, finished 7-9.

After passing for 4,068 yards in 2007 and 4,208 in 2006, Kitna started only four games last season before an October back injury ended his season.

Kitna's career includes stops in Seattle and Cincinnati. In completing 59.8 percent of his attempts, he has passed for 27,293 yards, 152 touchdowns and 151 interceptions.

His best season came in 2003 when he started 16 games for the Bengals. With No. 1 overall pick Carson Palmer watching from the sidelines, Kitna completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 3,591 yards, 26 TDs and 15 interceptions as Cincinnati finished 8-8.

"I'm pretty excited," Williams said. "(Kitna's) my guy. That's a guy that knows me and he's a guy that will help Tony go through anything he needs to go through as a quarterback. Jon has been there, done that. He helped show Carson (Palmer) the ropes in Cincinnati."

In addition to reuniting him with Williams, the deal lands Kitna on the same team with a player he once publicly disparaged, linebacker Bradie James. Kitna knocked James' play after the Lions upset the Cowboys in 2006, but the two patched things up after Dallas sank Detroit in 2007.

The Cowboys landed Brooking, 33, one day after he failed to reach a deal to remain with Atlanta, which selected him 12th overall pick in 1998.

The move reunites Brooking with Cowboys coach Wade Phillips, who was defensive coordinator in Atlanta from 2002-2003. Brooking will replace Zach Thomas, an unrestricted free agent, at weakside inside linebacker.

Brooking is a five-time Pro Bowler and the Falcons' leading tackler each of the last eight seasons. But he struggled with pass coverage last season, a major reason why Atlanta let him go.

Second-year players Orlando Scandrick and Mike Jenkins are expected to compete to replace Henry as the starter at corner opposite Terence Newman.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 2, 2009

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