On Thornton, Verner And Orakpo

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles announced today that they’ve signed Cedric Thornton to a one-year contract.

Thornton was an exclusive rights free agent, meaning he was under team control. If the Eagles wanted him back, his options were to either take the deal or not play at all. In other words, he was not allowed to negotiate with other teams on the open market.

Next year, Thornton will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Eagles will be in great position to retain him once again.

Thornton excelled in the Eagles’ two-gap 3-4 in 2013, mostly lining up at defensive end, but occasionally playing nose tackle. He did a great job using his length and getting to the ball-carrier in the run game. Thornton still has room to improve as a pass-rusher, but was arguably the team’s most consistent defensive player last season.

He turns 26 in June.

WOULD VERNER MAKE SENSE?

In his column today, Peter King of The MMQB suggested the Eagles should be looking at cornerbacks in free agency:

Regarding this year’s crop: Nick Foles bonded with Cooper, and when Cooper was willing to eschew free agency for $4.5 million a year, the Eagles jumped. They bought a year with Maclin, signing him for 2014 while seeing if he recovers from ACL surgery and resumes being an upper-echelon player. Kelce and Peters are among the best at their positions in football.

So, the Eagles, with an estimated $21 million in cap room, should be able to address their needs and get their own players re-signed in the early days of free agency. If I were GM Howie Roseman, I’d be watching tape of Titans corner Alterraun Verner.

My take? I’d be surprised if the Eagles went after a high-priced free agent cornerback. They are more likely to go forward with Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin. A mid-level guy for depth and competition would make sense. And if a corner catches their eye in the draft, they could go in that direction too.

King projects that Verner is going to strike it rich since he’s only 25. But my guess is the Eagles won’t be a player for the 5-10 cornerback.

ORAKPO UPDATE

Even if the Redskins can’t lock up Brian Orakpo to a long-term deal, it looks like he’s staying in D.C.:

Update: The Redskins announced officially that they have placed the franchise tag on Orakpo.

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