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Cowboys news: The Allen Hurns watch continues, and LB Joe Thomas breaks the ice in free agency

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At long last, free agency seems to be underway in Dallas.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts
Finally, a name to be excited about.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

After the usual dreary, boring start to free agency for the Dallas Cowboys, things are finally starting to move a bit. Several free agents have visited this week, and none has created more excitement than former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns. He posted this video on Instagram to document his visit.

There was no word at the time this was written of any deal getting done, but it doesn’t stop us from getting our hopes up.

First Look: What would an Allen Hurns signing bring to Cowboys? | K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
Here's a look at the role Hurns could play - assuming he is not intended to help the team move on from Dez Bryant (more about that later).

His best year came as a Z receiver in 2015, playing off the line of scrimmage. He took over as the X receiver when Allen Robinson went down with injury, and often moved into the slot in three-receiver formations.

The Cowboys’ deep threat in 2017, Brice Butler, was not brought back because that is the only thing he contributed to the offense. That isn’t the case with Hurns.

If signed, he’d be a threat to the playing time of both Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley. He could be a threat to both players’ positions on the roster, though with Williams guaranteed $3.5 million salary, that may have to be something that involves a trade.

Cowboys finally sign an outside free agent with the addition of linebacker Joe Thomas - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
BUT WE FINALLY HAVE A SIGNING! Linebacker Joe Thomas, formerly of the Green Bay Packers (and not to be confused with future HOF OT Joe Thomas) has the distinction of being the first free agent signing for the last team to make a free agent signing. It is clearly not a splash move, fitting right into the Dallas model of bargain shopping.

As previously noted, Thomas was mainly used as a special teams guy and spent some time in sub-packages when the team went to nickel/dime formations. The Cowboys just lost a special team’s linebacker in Kyle Wilber. Whether Thomas can actually compete for a spot in the linebacker rotation is still a question, something the Cowboys need with the departure of Anthony Hitchens.

Dallas Cowboys: Allen Hurns among 8 free agent visitors | Clarence Hill Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The Cowboys still trail the rest of the NFL in free agency as far as bringing in players from outside. That is about to change, as shown in this article (which is eerily reminiscent of one put up here by our own R.J. Ochoa, FWIW).

But the week-long impasse could be ending soon with the team hosting eight visitors the past three days, including receivers Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson and guard Joe Thomas on Wednesday to go with tackles LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming, guard Marcus Martin and receivers Dontrelle Inman and Justin Hunter on Monday and Tuesday.

None are expensive options so it fits the Cowboys’ plan to shop for bargains in free agency.

The cluster of players at receiver and the offensive line give insight into the team needs early in free agency.

Terrance Williams Contract Creates 2018 Job Security - Jess Haynie, Inside the Star
Like it or not, financials play a part in roster decisions. And no matter what the Cowboys do about adding wide receiver talent in free agency or the draft, it looks like Terrance Williams has a secure roster spot - but not necessarily his place on the depth chart.

Last offseason, Terrance signed a four-year, $17 million deal to stay in Dallas. Because we are now just in the second year of that deal, it is cost prohibitive against the salary cap to release or trade him.

Williams is scheduled to count $4.75 million against the 2018 cap. If Dallas were to cut him, it would accelerate his remaining guaranteed money and create $7.25 million in dead money this year. He would cost more against the cap off the roster than on it.

Even the June-1st provision doesn't help. Williams' dead money in 2018 drops to $4.75 million, which is a net zero against his existing cap hit. It would also push $2.5 million of dead money to 2019. There's no benefit there, and you lose an experienced player who knows your system.

Dear Slapdick: Will The Dallas Cowboys Boss Who Is Anti-Dez Bryant Please Stand Up? - Mike Fisher, Cowboys HQ
The continuing reports that there is a voice (or voices) at the Star advocating the departure of Dez Bryant is frustrating to many of us. Fisher is one who really is less than happy about it, and he goes off in this piece, while pointing a finger at who he thinks is driving the train.

Ah, Scott Linehan. Yeah, he's got somebody's ear here. I'm told that the dismissal of Frank Pollard as O-line coach, even though he was under contract, was Linehan-driven. I'm told the self-directed departure of receivers coach Derek Dooley was the result of his frustration with his supervisor not listening to him. I'm told the departure of QB coach Wade Wilson occurred for the same reason. And obviously, the hand-picked successor at that spot, Kellen Moore, is a Linehan Lieutenant.

Yeah, this mess has Scott Linehan's fingerprints all over it.

Dez Bryant will train with route guru to polish his game - Chris Wesseling, NFL.com
There may be some who seem to want him gone, but Dez Bryant is taking steps to correct his issues from last season anyway, working with personal wide receivers coach David Robinson.

Robinson's program reads like a checklist of criticisms encountered by Bryant during an ongoing streak of 23 consecutive regular-season games without a 100-yard performance.

It's especially noteworthy that the three-time Pro Bowl selection is working with a route guru after NFL Network analyst Steve Smith highlighted Bryant's shortcomings in that area prior to a late-November game last season.

"One thing that I've noticed with top-tier guys, they have a Ph.D. in route running," Smith explained. "They can run every route on the route tree. With Dez as he's becoming older ... you have to be able to run all of those routes because your speed, you lose a step a little bit, you're not as fast as you used to be when you were twentysomething."

Dallas Cowboys: Cole Beasley: How Cowboys can be more Dak-friendly after QB was asked to be 'Superman' in 2017 | Jon Machota, SportsDay
Like all the Dallas wide receivers, Cole Beasley had a down year in 2017. He isn't blaming quarterback Dak Prescott.

"He was still making plays all the time," Beasley said during an interview to help promote Old Spice's new Captain scent at a local Walmart store. "Last year, we asked him to be Superman and relied on him so much. When things broke down he was making plays scrambling. A lot comes with filling some spots maybe where we were weaker and stuff like that."

The veteran wide receiver also suggested that the Cowboys will need to be better in the passing game on early downs to counter what teams did last year to limit Prescott’s mobility behind the line of scrimmage.

Tony Romo 'prepared to play his best' in PGA Tour debut - Todd Archer, ESPN
Meanwhile, someone is certainly enjoying his retirement.

With Tiger Woods reigniting some golf talk with his ability to contend on Sunday in his two recent tournaments, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will get some spotlight time on the PGA Tour this week.

Romo will play on a sponsor’s exemption at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. His hopes might be a tad different than Woods’. Making the cut would be an accomplishment.