The veteran outside linebacker has not participated in any offseason practices as he recovers from shoulder and hip surgeries. Some insiders believe while Thornton’s spirit is willing, his body simply is no longer able.
Earlier this offseason Jeff Fisher said Thornton didn’t qualify as a starter because he was unable to practice.
Gerald McRath's four-game suspension for a violation of the league’s policy against performance enhancers may just play perfectly into Thornton getting a final season with the Titans. He is due roughly $4.3 million in the final year of his contract and, if he’s healthy, he should be a better option than Stanford Keglar, rookie Rennie Curran or Jamie Winborn.
If depth is still such a question after camp, I think they will pay Thornton and play him.
Then, if he’s going well through the first month, the Titans can wait to see if, and when, he breaks down before installing McRath. If he’s not performing well or has gotten hurt, the Titans know they’ve got a healthy upgrade arriving for their fifth game.
If Thornton can’t get healthy, and the Titans had to look to another alternative, they could play Colin Allred in the middle and Stephen Tulloch outside. Will Witherspoon is in line as the other starter on the outside.
I know McRath’s suspension will spark another round of talk about the possibility of bringing back Keith Bulluck, and the politically correct Jeff Fisher tossed Bulluck’s name out again Monday.
Considering Bulluck probably won’t be back to full strength at the start of the season after an ACL tear in late Decemeber, I don’t see how his chance to return -- slim to none in my eyes -- is enhanced by McRath’s development.
Tulloch has signed his $2.521 million restricted free agent tender offer, according to Fisher.
The middle linebacker had no choice. Starting Tuesday teams can substitute tenders of 110 percent of last year’s salary for the restricted free agent offers made back in March.
I expect Tulloch will continue to stay away from the team during voluntary workouts and organized team activities to protest the lack of a long-term deal. But I don’t think he’s getting one this year, and it’ll be costly for him to stay away once training camp starts.