Cowboys sign OLB Ayodele, their former ball boy

Updated: March 13, 2006, 11:05 PM ET
Associated Press

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys signed linebacker Akin Ayodele to a $17 million, five-year deal Monday that includes a $5 million bonus, a hefty raise from the last time he worked for the club -- as a ball boy.

Ayodele went to Irving MacArthur High School, not far from the team's headquarters and Texas Stadium. He then became a star pass rusher as a defensive end at Purdue, moving to linebacker after becoming a third-round pick by Jacksonville in 2002.

He's played all 64 games since entering the league, starting 46 times, and has had at least 100 tackles in each of his four seasons with the Jaguars. He's also had 8½ sacks and three interceptions for his career, plus forced eight fumbles, four of them last season.

The 6-foot-2, 246-pound Ayodele will be part of a changing cast in the Cowboys' 3-4 scheme. Dat Nguyen is retiring and Scott Fujita signed with the New Orleans Saints on Monday. With Al Singleton and Kevin Burnett returning from injuries, Bradie James and last year's top draft pick DeMarcus Ware are the only incumbents set to pick up where they left off.

Ayodele is the second free agent the Cowboys have lured from another team, joining offensive lineman Kyle Kosier from Detroit. Dallas also has re-signed offensive lineman Andre Gurode.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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