Brandon Carr will improve the Cowboys defense after coming over from the Chiefs
Brandon Carr will improve the Cowboys defense after coming over from the Chiefs Reuters

The Cowboys had one of the more disappointing seasons in the 2011 NFL Season.

Dallas was on its way to the postseason before losing key games down the stretch to the Giants and Eagles. They finished in third place, out of the playoffs.

Dallas has been extremely active this offseason, trying to fix the holes they had in 2011. They've signed more free agents than they have since the 2006 offseason. They've lost some players who's contracts were up, but Dallas has done a good job of filling its needs through the draft and free agency.

Here are five key additions the Cowboys have made during the offseason.

Brandon Carr

The Cowboys biggest weakness in 2011 was unquestionably its secondary.

Dallas was near the bottom of the league, allowing over 244 yards per game through the air. They lost three of their final four games, which kept them out of the playoffs. In those three losses, the Cowboys allowed over 346 passing yards per contest.

The signing of Brandon Carr addresses the team's biggest need, while getting the best player available at the position. The cornerback is worth every bit of the $50 million he'll be receiving from Dallas, considering their need for a star defensive back.

Carr helped Kansas City post the sixth best pass defense in the NFL a season ago, and should help bolster a formerly beleaguered Cowboys secondary.

Morris Claiborne

Not only did the Cowboys pick up the best defensive back in free agency, they also got the best one in the NFL Draft.

Dallas traded up to the sixth overall selection for the right to take Claiborne, the most talented cornerback coming out of college. The move helped the Cowboys turn what was once a weakness into a strength.

Claiborne intercepted 11 passes in his last two seasons at LSU, and can be a dangerous return man. He brings some much needed speed to the Cowboys defense, and should make a big impact in his first season in the league.

Dan Connor

Dallas improved the middle of its defense with the signing of Connor.

The linebacker gives the Cowboys the help they need at inside linebacker. Other than DeMarcus Ware on the outside, the Cowboys were not very strong at the position a year ago. In 2012, Connor will bring toughness to the linebacking corps that the team sorely needed.

Connor comes over from Carolina, where he recorded 75 tackles in 11 starts with the Panthers. He'll team up with Sean Lee in the middle of the Cowboys defense. The two played together at Penn State and should have no problem playing alongside one another.

Kyle Orton

The Cowboys hope Orton will never have to play a down in 2012, but it's a good signing nonetheless.

Orton struggled last season with the little playing time he got. He threw nine touchdowns and nine interceptions with the Broncos and Chiefs. However, he didn't have many weapons around him, and has more options in Dallas if he' put into a game.

Orton has shown in the past an ability to produce. He threw for 3,653 yards with 20 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in just 13 games in 2010. A change of scenery will likely help him, especially since he knows his role now.

In Denver, he always had Tim Tebow ready to take his place. With Dallas, he is the backup, and would only play if Tony Romo got hurt.

There aren't many backup quarterbacks with whom you'd trust to win a game or two if your starter is injured. Kyle Orton is one of them.

Brodney Pool

Pool wasn't a major signing by Dallas, but he'll certainly help them in 2012.

Not only did the Cowboys bring in potential stars in the secondary, they also added some depth. He's expected to play strong safety, and is another piece that will help this secondary improve immensely from last season.

Pool is a veteran presence, playing seven years in the league, most recently with the Jets. He recorded 37 tackles and one interception a year ago.