Brooking gets 3-year contract
Free agent linebacker Keith Brooking, who has played his entire football career in the Peachtree State, is leaving Georgia.
Brooking on Saturday evening reached agreement to join the Dallas Cowboys. ESPN.com has confirmed that the contract is for three years, but no financial terms were yet available.
The agreement officially ends Brooking's tenure with the Falcons, who allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent after 11 seasons. Although the Falcons made Brooking an offer, he would have had to accept a significant pay cut.
The departure of Brooking leads the Falcons minus a team leader and a strong voice in the locker room.
Brooking will be reunited in Dallas with coach Wade Phillips, who served as his defensive coordinator and head coach in Atlanta. The contract negotiations were quick, as Phillips wanted Brooking for a club that sorely needs his leadership abilities.
Brooking was the truly the conscience of the Atlanta team. He made the sacrifice of moving from the week side to middle linebacker when Jessie Tuggle retired in 2001. For the local media, Brooking was a go-to guy, the player who could be counted on to speak his mind, when others were rendered mute.
Born in nearby Senoia, Ga., Brooking prepped at East Coweta High School. He starred at Georgia Tech. He was a legitimate hometown product. And as a team often criticized for ignoring local college talent, the Falcons chose him as the 12th overall player in the 1998 draft. Over the years, he became a big proponent of giving back to the community. His entire football career, and his good deeds, have come within a 50 -mile radius of Atlanta.
For most of his career, Brooking, 33, was a standout player. He recorded 1,132 tackles and 17 sacks in his tenure with the Falcons. The 11-year veteran was named to five Pro Bowl squads , and was selected as an All-Pro in two seasons.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com