A familiar face from a bygone era might be making his return to the city of brotherly love.
The Philadelphia Eagles recently held a workout with defensive lineman Cedric Thornton (no relation to this writer) in their ongoing search to provide depth while starting defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan recovers from back surgery.
Thornton is currently listed as a defensive tackle but was technically a defensive end in former Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis’ 3-4 scheme. Thornton would prove to be a very serviceable defensive lineman. Especially against the run in the NFL, despite going undrafted in 2011. Thornton made Andy Reid’s 53-man roster in 2012 during the former coaches swan song season with the team before becoming a three-year starter for the Chip Kelly era.
Since then, the Eagles decided not to renew Thornton’s contract when current head coach Doug Pederson took over before the 2016 season. Thornton signed a four-year deal worth $17 million with the Dallas Cowboys.
His time with the Cowboys lasted one season when he totaled 22 tackles and 1.5 sacks in the lone star state. Thornton spent last season as a rotational tackle for the Buffalo Bills amassing 27 tackles and two sacks, the latter of which is a career high.
How would the Eagles use Thornton?
If the Eagles were to sign Thornton, there’s a myriad of ways it can go. He and newly acquired veteran defensive tackle Haloti Ngata can compete to occupy the temporary starting spot. Another possibility is both Thornton and Ngata remain in their prospective roles as rotational tackles while the team kicks the other newly acquired defensive lineman Michael Bennett inside. And have second-year defensive end Derick Barnett start on the outside.
In this case, Thornton would have to compete with Destiny Vaejo and Elijah Qualls for that rotational spot. Both Vaejo and Qualls have played decently in the past. But it’s nothing to write home about, in their limited playing time. Whether or not this workout is a one-off deal remains to be seen. But for now, it can’t hurt to think of the possible scenarios.