Eagles Continue to Shop for Veteran DT Help
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles continue to shop for some veteran help at defensive tackle in the wake of Tim Jernigan's back surgery.
The latest name to emerge is a familiar one, one-time former Eagle Cedric Thornton, who was recently worked out by the team in the days after Jernigan went under the knife for a herniated disc, according to Philadelphia-area radio personality Geoff Mosher. The Eagles have also looked at former Baltimore and Atlanta defensive lineman Courtney Upshaw and had some interest in Terrell McClain before the latter signed with Atlanta.
Thornton was a member of the Eagles from 2012-15 after emerging as an undrafted free agent of Southern Arkansas with experience at both DT and five-technique. He finished his stint in Philly after playing in 61 games (45 starts) over four seasons, and amassing four sacks, a forced fumble, and three fumble recoveries.
After leaving the Eagles, Thornton landed in Dallas and Buffalo over the past two seasons.
Jernigan, who is the starter next to Fletcher Cox on the interior of Jim Schwartz's defensive line, is expected to miss four to six months. Veteran Haloti Ngata, a five-time Pro Bowl selection signed in free agency, is expected to take over the starting spot but he's 34 and coming off a torn pec so a pitch count is paramount there.
Other backups inside are the largely unproven Destiny Vaeao and Elijah Qualls, along with undrafted rookie Bruce Hector, who received a $60,000 guarantee to sign with Philadelphia out of South Florida.
The good news for the Eagles is that ends Brandon Graham and Michael Bennett both have the versatility to kick inside as pass rushers although Graham is recovering from offseason ankle surgery and will likely miss the team's spring work while Bennett is new to the scheme after being acquired from Seattle and still needs to clear up an indictment in Houston in which he is alleged to have injured a wheelchair-bound security guard after Super Bowl LI.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Want more NFL? Check out John's piece on the Matt Patricia mess in Detroit over at GetMoreSports.com.