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Sides met Friday at Valley Ranch

IRVING, Texas -- Eddie George agreed to a contract with the
Dallas Cowboys on Friday, two days after he was released by
Tennessee.

The one-year deal with the Cowboys is for a base salary of $660,000 with a signing bonus of $1.54 million, sources have told ESPN's Ed Werder.

"He's a great fit for us, and he will complement an offense
that will be about power running," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.

George was cut Wednesday, at his request, after he rejected
Tennessee's final bid. He left the Titans after eight seasons and
more than 10,000 yards.

As soon as the running back became a free agent, Cowboys officials called George and his agent early and often. While George was flattered, he was still coming to grips with the end of his
relationship with the Titans.

So before jumping to a new team, he made some calls of his own,
checking out the Cowboys and Parcells with prospective teammates
Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn and Marcellus Wiley.

Liking what he heard, George arrived at team headquarters Friday
morning. Within hours of meeting Jones in front of a display of the
team's five Super Bowl trophies, George was holding up his new No.
27 jersey and talking about hopes of bringing a sixth championship.

"I didn't want to mess around with flying here and flying
there. I wanted to find the right fit and this was it,'' George
said. "It felt good to be wanted.''

"I see this team coming up on the rise," George said at a news
conference introducing him. "There was a lot of places to look at,
but I see that Dallas is committed to the run, and I think I can
help with that."

George's only free-agent visit was to Dallas. Negotiations moved
so quickly because the relationship works well for both sides.

The Cowboys had plenty of room under the salary cap and, a week
before opening training camp, they were still looking for a veteran
running back to ease the burden on Julius Jones, a second-round
pick from Notre Dame who was expected to be the starter.

Regardless of who starts, both will get plenty of carries. The
better George does -- and the Cowboys are certainly hoping his
competitive nature and desire to prove he's still an elite runner
will draw out his best -- the slower they can bring along Jones.

Although George has never missed a game in his 128-game career,
he's been slowed by injuries typical for someone who's averaged
21.4 carries per game. He turns 31 in September.

The pounding has reduced his effectiveness. After averaging 3.9
yards per carry his first five seasons, he's been at 3.2 over the
last three seasons. He was at 3.3 last year, when he gained 1,031
yards and topped the 10,000-yard mark for his career.

George's 2003 numbers are similar to what Troy Hambrick produced
last season when he underwhelmingly replaced Emmitt Smith. Hambrick
has since been released.

The difference is that the Cowboys believe George can still be
valuable if used properly, especially as the lead back in
short-yardage and goal-line situations. He scored 12 touchdowns two
seasons ago. George also has averaged 8.3 yards on two receptions
per game for his career.

While Cowboys coach Bill Parcells is very high on Jones, he also
values proven veterans such as George. George provides other
qualities Parcells values: the willingness to play hurt, good size
for his position (6-foot-3, 235 pounds) and good hands (one lost
fumble the last two seasons). Maybe that will help
him continue his streak of 128 consecutive starts, which is second
all-time to Walter Payton's 170.

Parcells, who did not attend the news conference, didn't promise
George anything.

"He says I'm going to have to come in here and compete, and I
understand that,'' George said.

By signing someone of George's age and experience, the Cowboys
are seemingly reversing field from last offseason, when they cut
Smith. Other factors influenced that decision, such as the salary
and George knowing he'll be sharing time and mentoring Jones.

George also is returning to the state where his career began.
The former Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State played his rookie
season, 1996, in Houston before the franchise moved to Tennessee.

While George spoke kindly about the Titans on Friday, his agent, Lamont Smith,
indicated a bit of a grudge for not having settled things in
March, which would have given George more time to pick a new team.
Tennessee did keep him long enough to pay a $1 million roster
bonus.

He'll get a chance to prove something to the Titans at home on
Aug. 30 in Dallas' second-to-last preseason game. ABC is
broadcasting the game and will certainly play up the George angle.

He'll be easy to identify as the Cowboys gave him the same
jersey number he's had his entire NFL career and during his Heisman
Trophy-winning career at Ohio State. It had belonged to rookie
cornerback Bruce Thornton, who happens to be another of Smith's
clients.

"Eddie will be writing him a check,'' Smith said, laughing.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.