Late Tuesday night, news came out that the Detroit Lions made another move to bolster their defensive line. With not much depth currently on the roster at defensive tackle, the Lions decided to bring back Khyri Thornton on a new contract:
The Lions and DT Khryri Thornton have agreed to a new a 2-year deal. Thornton was a restricted free agent.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) March 8, 2017
As mentioned in Dave Birkett’s tweet, Thornton was a restricted free agent this offseason. After spending time with both the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots, Thornton was claimed off waivers by the Lions in October 2015. He saw limited action that season, playing in six games—no starts—but only recording three tackles.
However, 2016 was a different story for Thornton; he played in all but three games with the Lions and even made six starts. He notched 14 tackles and one sack in total on the season. Pro Football Focus was not a huge fan of his game, giving him a 39.9 grade, which ranked 121st among 127 qualifying interior defenders.
Moreover, per Birkett, Thornton’s contract is worth $3.3 million over the two years. While his production leaves more to be desired, keeping him on the roster makes sense given the lack of alternatives. The Lions are hoping that Thornton’s familiarity with the team and the system will pay dividends in 2017, especially with a variety of changes to defensive personnel likely coming in the next couple months.