Hugh Thornton

Guard Hugh Thornton Retires From NFL

Former Colts guard Hugh Thornton is retiring from the NFL. He signed a free agent deal with the Falcons in March, but he has decided to walk away from the game less than two months later. Hugh Thornton (vertical)

Thornton, 26 in June, started 32 games for the Colts from 2013-2015. The former third-round pick was held back by injuries and had not seen regular season action since December 2015. The reason for his retirement is not immediately known, but it’s safe to assume that his recovery has not gone according to plan.

The former third round pick was slated to be one of the top guard backups for Atlanta this year, offering support to Andy Levitre and Ryan Schraeder. Now, the Falcons will look to 2016 sixth round pick Wes Schweitzer and 2017 fourth round pick as the top reserves at the position.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Sign Derrick Coleman, Two Others

The Falcons announced the signing of three players on Tuesday afternoon. They have added fullbacks Derrick Coleman and Soma Vainuku plus guard Hugh ThorntonDerrick Coleman

Prior to today, the Falcons didn’t have any fullbacks on the roster, so Coleman and Vainuku now make up their entire FB depth chart. Of course, when all is said and done, they could carry just one fullback, or possibly none if they do not care about prioritizing lead blocking. The Falcons lost one of the league’s best fullbacks this offseason when Patrick DiMarco signed with the Bills in free agency.

You might remember Coleman from his time with the Seahawks. An alleged hit-and-run incident in 2015 kept him out of football in 2016, but he avoided jail by agreeing to 240 hours of community service plus 12 months of community supervision. Although he is out of the woods in terms of legal trouble, he still has to serve a four-game NFL suspension. We had him ranked as one of the best remaining fullbacks on the board heading into Tuesday.

Thornton, 26 in June, started 32 games for the Colts from 2013-2015. The former third-round pick has been held back by injuries and has not seen regular season action since December 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2016 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure is projected to be $1.696MM in 2016. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2016 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:Keenan Allen (Vertical)

49ers: Gerald Hodges, LB

Bears: Marquess Wilson, WR

Buccaneers: William Gholston, DE; Mike Glennon, QB; Akeem Spence, DT

Cardinals: Andre Ellington, RB; Tyrann Mathieu, CB/S; Alex Okafor, LB

Chargers: Keenan Allen, WR

Colts: Sio Moore, LB; Hugh Thornton, G

Cowboys: J.J. Wilcox, S; Terrance Williams, WR

Dolphins: Jelani Jenkins, LB; Dallas Thomas, T; Dion Sims, TE; Kenny Stills, WR

Eagles: Bennie Logan, DT

Falcons: Kemal Ishmael, S; Levine Toilolo, TE

Jaguars: Josh Evans, S; Dwayne Gratz, CB

Jets: Brian Winters, G

Lions: Larry Warford, G

Packers: David Bakhtiari, T; Micah Hyde, S

Patriots: Duron Harmon, S; Chris Jones, DT; Logan Ryan, CB

Raiders: Mychal Rivera, TE

Rams: T.J. McDonald, S

Ravens: Ricky Wagner, T; Brandon Williams, DT

Saints: Terron Armstead, T; John Jenkins, DT

Seahawks: Luke Willson, TE

Steelers: Markus Wheaton, WR

Titans: Brian Schwenke, C

Washington: Jordan Reed, TE

Colts Place Whitehurst, Thornton On IR

The Colts have removed two key players from their 53-man roster, announcing today in a press release that quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and guard Hugh Thornton have been placed on the injured reserve list. The moves end their seasons, and create two openings on the Colts’ roster.

The Colts’ decision to move Whitehurst to IR after he sustained a groin injury is an interesting one. Matt Hasselbeck isn’t expected to be healthy enough to play in Week 17, which means the club currently has two options for its final game of the season — the starter will likely be either Andrew Luck, who hasn’t played since Week 9 and may not yet be cleared to return, or Stephen Morris, the only healthy QB on the roster, who was signed off the Eagles’ practice squad just four days ago.

The Colts are said to be working out free agent signal-caller Josh Freeman, but it’s highly unlikely that anyone from outside the organization would be signed to start right away. If Luck is unable to play in the club’s regular-season finale though, I’d expect Indianapolis to sign at least one more QB to the roster, whether it’s Freeman or someone else.

Thornton, 24, matched a career high with 12 starts this season for the Colts, but his season will come to an end a little early due to an ankle injury. Khaled Holmes took over for him on Sunday and is the favorite to start in his place in Week 17.

Sunday Roundup: Browns, Whitworth, Brees

Dwayne Bowe is a healthy scratch for the Browns in Week 3, which, given Cleveland’s dearth of talent at wide receiver, speaks volumes about Bowe’s present ability. Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com appears to believe that the team will cut ties with Bowe sooner rather than later, tweeting that the team will wait for GM Ray Farmer to return from suspension after next week’s game and then pull the plug on Bowe. Grossi’s ESPN colleagues Adam Caplan and Jeremy Fowler, however, disagree. Fowler tweets that the Browns will at least wait to see if Bowe can get himself into game shape, while Caplan tweets that, between the $9MM in guaranteed money the Browns invested in Bowe, combined with the team’s need at wideout, Bowe will have a little more time to prove himself.

Now let’s take a peek at a few more links from around the league:

  • Johnny Manziel may not be playing for the Browns this week, but as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, he continues to impress Cleveland brass with the strides he has made both on and off the field. The team will continue to roll with veteran Josh McCown for the time being, but if the Browns should begin to slip from the playoff picture, Manziel will get the chance to prove he is the team’s long-awaited solution under center.
  • Coley Harvey of ESPN.com believes the extension that the Bengals recently gave to Andrew Whitworth is a clear indication that the team does not see its window of opportunity closing, and that they will continue to be championship contenders for the foreseeable future. Although the team has not officially announced the extension, Harvey tweets that the announcement could come after today’s game against Baltimore.
  • Drew Brees‘ injury clouds his future with the Saints, and as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, the team could free up $20MM in salary cap room by parting ways with Brees next year and beginning the rebuilding process. Of course, before that happens, the team would have to have a viable alternative under center; Luke McCown is not the answer, and rookie Garrett Grayson, needless to say, has a long way to go.
  • If Brees should end up looking for a new home next year, Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com says the Jets would likely be a strong contender for his services.
  • Chuck Pagano may be coaching his last season in Indianapolis, but he is apparently unafraid to make drastic changes to jump start his struggling club. As Mike Wells of ESPN.com tweets, the Colts went with a new-look offensive line today, starting Jack Mewhort at left guard, Hugh Thornton at right guard, and Joe Reitz at right tackle. Free agent acquisition Todd Herremans, notably, moves to the bench.
  • During the 2009 draft, the Jaguars traded their seventh-round pick in that draft and their second-round pick in the 2010 draft to the Patriots in exchange for New England’s third-round pick in 2009. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets, Jacksonville selected Derek Cox with that third-round pick, and the Pats parlayed their two choices into Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman.

 

Minor Moves: Tuesday

Here are today’s minor transactions from around the league, including 53-man roster moves by a team still alive in the postseason:

  • The Seahawks announced that they have placed defensive lineman Jordan Hill on season ending injured reserve, as Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times tweets. To fill his spot, Seattle signed safety Steven Terrell to the active roster. Jimmy Staten was signed to the taxi squad, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post (via Twitter).
  • The Colts have placed guard Hugh Thornton, who started eight games for the team this year, on injured reserve, the club announced today in a press release. To replace him on the roster, Indianapolis signed running back Michael Hill, who spent time on the team’s practice squad earlier in the season.
  • Like the Colts, the Panthers are still in the playoff mix, but Carolina’s Tuesday move doesn’t affect the team’s 53-man roster — Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer tweets that the Panthers have signed tight end Mike McNeill, who was with the club in training camp, to a reserve/futures contract.
  • Former Louisville offensive lineman Alex Kupper signed a reserve/futures contract today with the Bills, according to the team.
  • The Dolphins have signed kicker Zach Hocker to a futures deal, according to a tweet from Hocker himself. Hocker was selected in the seventh round of 2014’s draft by Washington.