Cowboys agree to deal with first free agent: LB Joe Thomas

The Cowboys hope Joe Thomas can provide a boost on special teams and serve as a backup at linebacker. Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports

FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have made their first foray into free agency, agreeing to a two-year deal with linebacker Joe Thomas, who visited the team Wednesday.

Thomas spent the last three seasons with the Green Bay Packers, starting eight games while playing mostly in the sub packages and on special teams. He had 14 tackles, a half sack and a pass deflection in 2017. His best year came in 2016, when he started seven games and had 77 tackles and one interception.

The Cowboys have had a slow start to free agency, although their biggest decision was putting the franchise tag on Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence before free agency started to the tune of $17.143 million. The Cowboys also placed the second-round tender on defensive lineman David Irving at $2.9 million.

Veteran long snapper L.P. Ladouceur (one year) and exclusive rights free agent defensive tackle Brian Price (two years) also re-signed but Thomas is the first player from outside the organization to sign. But he's not an unfamiliar face, as he spent part of the 2015 season on the Cowboys' practice squad before signing with the Packers.

The Cowboys saw linebacker Anthony Hitchens sign with the Kansas City Chiefs and fullback Keith Smith and linebacker Kyle Wilber sign with the Oakland Raiders in the first week of free agency. Left guard Jonathan Cooper signed with the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday.

Wide receiver Allen Hurns, who was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Tuesday, visited the Cowboys on Wednesday, as did receiver Deonte Thompson. They came the day after the team met with free agent receivers Dontrelle Inman and Justin Hunter.

The Cowboys have had offensive linemen Cameron Fleming, Marcus Martin and LaAdrian Waddle in for visits as well.

The Cowboys are snug against the salary cap but can gain just under $7 million when they restructure the contract of Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick, turning most of his $10 million base salary into a signing bonus.