IRVING, Texas, April 14 (UPI) -- The Dallas Cowboys continued to bolster their defense through free agency Sunday by signing former Pro Bowl outside linebacker Kevin Hardy to a one-year contract.
Hardy spent his first six seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being selected with the second overall pick in the 1996 draft. He missed the final seven games of last season after undergoing knee surgery and was let go in a salary cap move.
If Hardy returns to his 1999 Pro Bowl form, the Cowboys hold an option to extend his contract for four more years.
"I have every indication that it (knee) will return to 100 percent," Hardy said. "I'm a little over three months post-op and feeling good. I've just now been doing some light jogging on grass and it's been positive. I have every indication that I'll be able to bounce back and it will be 100 percent."
Last season, Hardy collected 98 tackles and 5 1/2 sacks before suffering his injury. In his career, the 6-4, 249-pounder has 28 1/2 sacks, including a career-high 10 1/2 in 1999.
Hardy, 28, is the second major signing on the defensive side of the ball for the Cowboys, who ranked fourth in the league last season. He joins defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, who was signed away from New Orleans. Dallas also signed cornerback Bryant Westbrook.
With the Cowboys, Hardy is expected to compete for the starting strong side linebacker spot with Markus Steele, who started 10 games as a rookie last season.