DT John Thornton – the one that got away

Sunday, July 12, 2009

On Sunday evening, SI’s Ross Tucker reported, via Twitter, that former Bengals DT John Thornton had verbally agreed to terms with the Lions—but then backed out, due to not feeling “comfortable” with the deal.  Immediately, I wondered if Lewand and/or Mayhew had insisted on a very short deal, or a very low amount of guaranteed money.  Something Mayhew has been very firm on is getting the “right player for the right price”—meaning that even if he has a chance to acquire a player who’d be a perfect fit on the field, he won’t pull the trigger if the price is too high.

I asked Tucker if it was the money or the terms that were the sticking point, and Tucker replied that he was “not exactly sure but it probably came down to guaranteed money.  Thornton is a smart guy with a lot of things going in life.”  This essentially confirmed my earlier suspicions.  As with Culpepper, Foote, Jackson, et al., the Lions don’t want to be paying for Thornton for three or four years—they want to be able to completely wash his hands of him as soon as it becomes expedient.  Thornton probably looked at the proposed structure of the deal and concluded that if any of the Lions’ young DTs perform, he’s almost certainly being given a handshake and bus ticket at the end of the season.  If he really does have a lot of irons in the fire, he can afford to wait and see another team offers more . . . because my guess is, the Lions’ best offer is already on the table. Discuss it here, in The Den!