PHILADELPHIA ( — After a day spent adding pieces in free agency, the Eagles lost one on Thursday to a division rival.

The Dallas Cowboys signed veteran defensive end Cedric Thornton to a four-year deal.

While a hard-working and versatile player, Thornton, 27, was considered a better fit as a five-technique and the Eagles were lukewarm about bringing back him back for Jim Schwartz's 4-3 attacking philosophy.

It's interesting, however, that the Cowboys also use a base 4-3 under Rod Marinelli and were willing to commit to Thornton.

As a two-gap player with the Eagles, Thornton was steady if unspectacular, usually doing yeoman work at a less than glamorous position, which was designed to tie up blockers so others could make plays.

Thornton played in 13 of 16 games for the Eagles last season, amassing 47 tackles and one sack while participating in 493 defensive snaps (41 percent).

Of the 123 "interior defenders" ranked by, Thornton finished as a solid No. 44 overall in 2015, particularly standing out as a run defender.

-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for You can reach him at or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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