Fresh off the heels of watching Dallas slap the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer due to not having a viable, less expensive replacement on the roster, it appears the Cowboys could be regurgitating another internal free agent.
Keith Brooking, a 36-year-old veteran, has reportedly been contacted by the club to possibly return for the 2012 season.
Now, fans that watched closely last year saw Brooking get pushed backwards, sometimes as much as five yards, by running backs bulldozing through the hole. His previous calling card, pass coverage from the position, also abandoned him a bit last season.
In fact, Pro Football Focus gave him a cumulative grade of -7.9 on only 409 snaps; the second-worst grade assigned to any defensive Cowboys player. He scored negatively in both run support and pass coverage.
The Cowboys apparently have painted themselves into a corner at several positions on the club. By failing to develop anything more than situational substitutes at outside linebacker in recent years, Dallas had no choice but to franchise Spencer.
At least they can rescind the tag should he fail to sign the tender and a free agent target show interest come March 13th. Brooking's situation might be, "if we can't find anyone better, you want back in?"
The Cowboys have drafted inside linebackers in the second round of the last two drafts, so it's not as if they've neglected the position in the most recent years.
In both cases, bad drafting in previous campaigns has led to a lack of depth in the linebacking corps. Brandon Williams, Jason Williams, Bobby Carpenter, Victor Butler, Stephen Hodge, Erik Walden ... the list of busts is long. Only Victor Butler has risen from those ranks, and he plays primarily to give DeMarcus Ware a breather.