IRVING, Texas– When it became time for Cedric Thornton to seriously entertain offers from other teams, the free agent turned to one of the few people he trusts to make the right decision.
His eight-year old son, of course.
Cedric Jr. didn't hesitate, immediately telling his father:
"Dallas. We're going to Dallas."
The elder Thornton was fine with that, knowing there was mutual interest between the two sides.
The next time his phone rang, about 30 minutes after his son's prediction, Thornton answered, only to have head coach Jason Garrett on the other line.
"I knew then I was destined to be here," Thornton said. "My son is running up and down the stairs saying," I told you so. I told you it was Dallas.' So after that, I decided I wasn't going to do other visits. And the rest is history."
Thornton arrived at Valley Ranch for a visit and even told the Cowboys he wasn't leaving the building without a deal. The Cowboys signed him to a four-year, $17 million deal that includes $6 million guaranteed.
"I just knew I was supposed to be here. It felt right," he said. "I had some other offers from Seattle and Kansas City. But I know this team. I've played against these guys. I think we have a chance to win a championship here. This isn't a 4-12 team. We're going to be back and I just wanted to be a part of it."
Thornton knows it has been over 20 years since the Cowboys last won a Super Bowl, but his reasoning is simple:
"Why not now?" he said. "You can tell they have a special thing going on. I've played against Zack Martin, Frederick, Collins, Doug Free. It's always a tough battle when we face those guys. And now I get to face them in practice every day. I feel like they're going to make me a better player and maybe I can do the same to them."
Thornton played defensive end with the Eagles' 3-4 scheme, but will slide inside to the tackle spot in the 4-3 system. But Garrett said he sees versatility in Thornton that could land him in different spots on the line.
"We've been going against Cedric and that defensive line in Philadelphia for a few years now and he's just a good football player," Garrett said. "He's versatile. You see him align in different spots on their defensive line. They've always challenged you a number of different ways. They've got a lot of different guys that are good run defenders. He plays the right way, he's productive, he's active, he's physical and again we've had a chance to go against him a couple times a year so we know him well and we're lucky to have him on our side."
For Thornton, he sees this scheme as a much better fit, which correlates with his aggressive personality as well.
"I feel like this scheme is definitely for a football player and a guy who wants to attack all the time," he said. "My mentality isn't to catch blocks and get rid of them. My mentality is to attack, penetrate and be disruptive. That's what I want to do and that's what I'm going to do."