Bears Announce Signing of Veteran Ex-Packers Starting LB

Joe Thomas LB

Getty Ex-Packers linebacker Joe Thomas has just been signed by the Chicago Bears.

The Chicago Bears have signed veteran inside linebacker Joe Thomas to a reserves contract, the team announced on March 1.

Thomas was signed by the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He played his college ball at South Carolina State, where he was a starter for three of his four seasons before entering the NFL. After spending his first three years in Green Bay, Thomas landed in Dallas, where he played for the Cowboys from 2018-20.

His 2021 campaign was divided between two teams. He started the season with the Houston Texans, and signed on to the Baltimore Ravens‘ practice squad after the Texans released him in October.

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A Look at Thomas’ Background, Stats & Injury History

In college at SC State, Thomas played in 41 games (30 starts), amassing 271 tackles (188 solo, 31 for loss), four interceptions, 11.5 sacks, nine passes defensed, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

The 6-foot-1, 233-pound linebacker played in 42 games in his three seasons with the Packers, starting eight. He tallied 110 total tackles (84 solo, eight for loss), seven passes defensed, an interception, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and eight quarterback hits in that span before moving on to Dallas.

While with the Cowboys, Thomas played in 40 games and started six, accumulating 95 total tackles (58 solo, four for loss), a forced fumble, three passes defensed and two QB hits. His role was primarily on special teams, but he wound up filling in for an injured Leighton Vander Esch for a brief stint in 2020. Last season, he played in five games for Houston, starting two, and he also appeared in two games for the Ravens. He finished his 2021 campaign with 13 total tackles.

He missed four games due to a foot injury in 2018, but other than that, Thomas has a clean injury history.

He’s a hard-hitting vet some Bears fans may remember for knocking the ‘C’ decal off former Bears running back Ka’Deem Carey’s helmet back in 2016:

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Bears Looking to Add Solid Depth Via Free Agency

Bears general manager Ryan Poles spoke with the media on March 1, and he reinforced the idea his team would be scouring the second and third waves of free agency in order to find hungry players looking to prove themselves worthy of second chances.

“We have, what is it, 26-27 free agents, so there’s a lot of spots we got to fill, so that volume piece is important and it really comes down to our evaluation, to make sure that we’re right on there,” Poles said. “The other thing, too, that I’ve always loved is, usually in that volume piece, you’re going to have some players that, they’re motivated, they’ve got a chip on their shoulder, and they want to get back into free agency and go at it again. So they play with a purpose.”

The Bears have 26 players under contract for the 2022 season, so Thomas will be the first of many new additions. We’ll see if he winds up making the active roster this fall.

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