Joe Thomas has not made it known he wants out of Cleveland, but as the 0-7 Browns have predictably floundered in another rebuilding year, the left tackle doesn’t seem to have a place on the team. And trade winds are blowing again around the perennial first-team All-Pro.
Several teams are interested in the 10th-year edge protector, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports, and all would give Thomas a chance to play in the playoffs for the first time in his career.
Florio reports the Patriots, Cardinals, Giants, Seahawks and Vikings have varying degrees of interest in a potential Thomas deal. But the Browns likely will keep him through Week 8, with the deadline a day after their clash with the Jets. The team owes its longest-tenured player $488K in Week 8; Thomas is under contract through 2018.
The Browns are eyeing a second-round pick for the six-time All-Pro lineman, a source tells Florio. That would be a worse haul than what they could have received last year, when the Broncos submitted a proposal including 2015 first-rounder Shane Ray and a second-round pick. Thomas will turn 32 in December, so his days of being a top-tier blocker are winding down. But he’d certainly be an upgrade on numerous teams’ left tackle situations.
Florio adds the chances the Browns move Thomas are lower than they were a year ago, and teams’ cap space in taking on Thomas’ contract will be an issue. The 6-foot-6 blocker does not have any guaranteed money left on his deal and will make $10MM in 2017 and ’18. As Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap points out (Twitter link), teams would only need to possess around $4.9MM in 2016 cap space to trade for Thomas. The Giants and Patriots are safely under that mark, while the Seahawks (at $5.931MM) are to a lesser degree. Both the Vikings (league-low $426K in cap space) and Cardinals ($2.171MM) aren’t.
If the Browns get to the point they’re willing to take what they can get for Thomas, Florio notes the Patriots would be interested in being his landing spot. The Pats and Browns already made a deal that sent the Browns’ 2013 first-round pick, Barkevious Mingo, to New England earlier this year. New England placed Sebastian Vollmer on the PUP list due to nagging hip problems that are expected to keep him out all season.
Minnesota’s line has not performed well and placed both starting tackles, Matt Kalil and Andre Smith, on IR. However, the Vikings traded their first-round pick next year for Sam Bradford and recently added Jake Long. Mike Zimmer, in criticizing his offensive line, said (via Florio) the team doesn’t plan to make any more additions up front.
It’s been reported on multiple occasions Thomas will not ask for a trade. But with the Browns having already parted with several veterans, not playing for anything in the short term and showing with their most recent draft moves how much they covet draft picks, a deal would make sense either this season or before the 2017 draft.
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