IRVING, Texas --Free agent linebacker Bradie James, a nine-year veteran and five-time defensive captain with the Cowboys, is expected to sign with the Houston Texans.
James will reunite with Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the Cowboys' head coach from 2007-10 and defensive coordinator from 2009-10. He'll compete for the 3-4 inside linebacker spot once held by DeMeco Ryans, whom the Texans traded to the Eagles in March.
A fourth-round pick in Bill Parcells' first draft class as Cowboys head coach in 2003, James became a starter in 2005 and led the defense in tackles from 2005-10. In 2011, his and fellow veteran Keith Brooking's snaps were significantly reduced as Sean Lee became a three-down player in first-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's scheme.
Early indications this offseason were the Cowboys would not re-sign James and Brooking. The team signed free agent Dan Connor in March to form a rotation with Lee and 2011 second-round pick Bruce Carter.
James, 31, started 127 of 142 career games over nine seasons with the Cowboys and became one their most vocal leaders. He only missed two games in his entire Dallas tenure -- Parcells deactivated him the first two weeks of his 2003 rookie season -- and tallied 744 tackles (515 solo), 15.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, 27 pass breakups and two interceptions.
With James and cornerback Terence Newman (Bengals) changing teams this spring, fellow 2003 arrivals tight end Jason Witten (third round) and quarterback Tony Romo (undrafted) are the Cowboys' longest-tenured players.