Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys sign former Eagles defensive lineman Cedric Thornton to 4-year, $18 million deal

Greg Hardy didn't live up to Cowboys expectations, Jerry Jones says

As free agency looms, the owner says there are reasons he may want the controversial defensive end back with Dallas. (Video by Clarence Hill)
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As free agency looms, the owner says there are reasons he may want the controversial defensive end back with Dallas. (Video by Clarence Hill)

The Dallas Cowboys took a step toward shoring up their defensive line with the signing of former Philadelphia Eagles end Cedric Thornton.

Thornton, 28, got a four-year deal worth $18 million, including $6 million in guaranteed money, according to a source.

He will play defensive tackle in the Cowboys’ 4-3 scheme, lining up next to Tyrone Crawford as an upgrade to Nick Hayden at nose tackle. Thornton gives the Cowboys some flexibility as he could also play defensive end.

Thornton was undrafted out of Southern Arkansas and signed by Philadelphia following the 2011 draft. He has started 45 games over the past three seasons and has four career sacks and 120 career tackles. He had 32 tackles and one sack last season.

Also on Thursday, the Cowboys restructured Crawford’s contract, turning $5.5 million of his 2016 base salary into a bonus to free up more cap room to use in free agency. The Cowboys structured the five-year, $45 million contract Crawford signed last September with the ability to re-work his deal to create cap room.

Thornton was one of three players to visit the Cowboys on Thursday, but the first one to sign.

Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll and Miami quarterback Matt Moore also visited Valley Ranch.

Carroll could be an option at cornerback. Morris Claiborne is an unrestricted free agent and looking for a fresh start. Orlando Scandrick is coming off knee surgery and Brandon Carr might be a cap casualty.

Carroll, a former 2010 fifth-round pick of the Dolphins, spent the past two seasons in Philadelphia. He started 11 games in 2015 before a broken leg ended his season.

The Cowboys also re-signed cornerback Josh Thomas to a one-year deal. Thomas joined the Cowboys for the final week of last season.

Moore, 32, is being targeted as a potential backup for starter Tony Romo. He would compete with Kellen Moore for reps behind Romo.

The Cowboys, however, might see one of their own free agents walk away. Running back Lance Dunbar visited the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday.

Dunbar, a Haltom High graduate, is still recovering from a season-ending knee injury. He tore his left anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament and might not be ready to start training camp.

Clarence Hill: 817-390-7760, @clarencehilljr

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