DENVER (AP) -The Denver Broncos signed fourth-round draft pick Marcus Thomas on Wednesday to a deal that will pay him $3 million over four years.
The defensive tackle who had 14 sacks in 41 games for the University of Florida likely would have been selected much higher than 121st in the NFL draft in April were it not for the trouble he got into last year.
Thomas was suspended from the national champion Gators last season by coach Urban Meyer after failing two marijuana tests. He was reinstated but then kicked off the squad permanently in early November for violating curfew and drug rehab class provisions of a contract he signed to remain with the team.
``Marcus was hands down the best football player on our national championship team. He's definitely a top-10 pick in my eyes,'' said defensive end Jarvis Moss of Florida, whom the Broncos selected with the 17th overall pick in this year's draft.
The Dallas Cowboys had their eyes on Thomas when the Broncos moved up in the draft to select him, sending Minnesota their sixth- and seventh-round selections along with a third-rounder in 2008 to pick a player that coach Mike Shanahan agreed had first-round potential.
Thomas, 6-foot-3 and 296 pounds, has said he appreciates the Broncos giving him a second chance and will repay them by staying clean. On the day he was drafted, he said, ``I feel like I'm already on 2.9 strikes. Anything else I'm out.''
``I'm going to make a good story out of it. Happily ever after - that's what I'm going to try to do; (make a) Cinderella story out of it,'' he said.

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