Joe Thomas (OT)

Browns’ Joe Thomas To Retire

This is the end of the line for Joe Thomas. After a league source told Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com that the Browns’ stalwart left tackle is more than likely retiring, the 33-year-old Thomas confirmed it himself.

He will not return for a 12th season.

This was an extremely difficult decision, but the right one for me and my family,” Thomas said. “Playing in the NFL has taken a toll on my body and I can no longer physically compete at the level I need to.”

He will leave the game as one of the best players of his era and will be a near-lock for the Hall of Fame five years from now.

From the moment I was drafted, the city embraced me in a way that I could never fully describe,” Thomas said. “I am proud to call Cleveland home. The loyalty and passion of the fans is unmatched and it was an honor to play in front of them from the past 11 years. I would like to thank all of the coaches, teammates, staff, fans and everyone who has shown me support throughout my career. Even though I will be hanging up my cleats, I will always be a Cleveland Brown.”

He will end his career as one of the best offensive linemen of his era and one of the greatest players in Browns history. Thomas’ run of 10 straight Pro Bowls from 2007-16 doubles as the only time in NFL history an offensive lineman has accomplished that in his first 10 seasons. Only Otto Graham and Jim Brown ended their careers with more first-team All-Pro honors than Thomas’ six, the last of which coming in 2015. From 2009-15, only once did the 6-foot-7 blocker not finish as an All-Pro.

A constant trade candidate in his 30s, Thomas continued to insist he wanted to stay in Cleveland rather than go try and win elsewhere as so many veterans before him did. And neither Ray Farmer nor Sashi Brown pulled the trigger on dealing him. Although, the Browns and Broncos came close to striking a deal in 2015 — months before a Denver team with a need at tackle celebrated a Super Bowl championship.

Perhaps most known for his ironman streak that spanned from his rookie year until midway through last season, Thomas never appeared in a playoff game but established an immense legacy in northeast Ohio.

The Wisconsin product started in 167 straight games (10,363 straight snaps), protecting 20 different quarterbacks and being the team’s cornerstone player through many rebuilding missions. The closest the Browns came to the postseason was in Thomas’ rookie year, when Derek Anderson piloted the team to a 10-6 record. They have not had a winning season since and have won more than five games just one other time in that span.

Thomas has spoken glowingly about the Browns’ prospects, but he is opting to step aside.

I think the future is really bright,” he said recently. “Obviously, John Dorsey came here for a reason because there was a ton of cap space, a ton of money that you can spend under the salary cap on new players, and obviously the draft picks that we have are pretty impressive, really unprecedented to have the first, the fourth [overall selections] and a couple early picks in the second round. So although the talent hasn’t been there for the team the last few years, the cupboards are not bare because of what we have coming down the pike in the next few years. For me as a player and for you guys as fans, it’s a great time to be a Cleveland Brown.”

Earlier this week, Thomas indicated that the Browns’ moves over the past week won’t impact his decision. Those moves, of course, include the acquisitions of wide receiver Jarvis Landry, quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and cornerbacks Terrance Mitchell and Damarious Randall. They also added a pair of new offensive linemen Chris Hubbard and Donald Stephenson. The Browns were interested in Nate Solder as a Thomas replacement, but the Giants agreed to sign him.

Thomas has been an active member of the community in Cleveland, having been the only player to earn the Walter Payton Man of the Year award multiple times (2010, 2012 and 2016), and has launched the ThomaHawk Show, a podcast with former Browns and Bengals wide receiver Andrew Hawkins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Tackle Notes: James, Bills, Eagles, Thomas

The Dolphins may be trying to see if they can unload Ja’Wuan James prior to his fifth-year option becoming guaranteed. A cut candidate, James is set to make $9.34MM on an as-of-now guaranteed-against-injury fifth-year option — which becomes fully guaranteed at 3pm CT Wednesday. Omar Kelly of the Orlando Sentinel reports the Dolphins are shopping the fifth-year right tackle, with the goal appearing to be moving him before free agency and the option vesting. While that is a high salary for a player who hasn’t been especially consistent, and has been injury-prone, plenty of teams are in need of tackle help. Additionally, the Dolphins are planning to re-sign swing tackle Sam Young, Kelly reports. Young, who will turn 31 in June, started six games for Miami last season. He’s a much cheaper option than James, albeit one with a lower ceiling.

Here’s the latest from the tackle market, courtesy of CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora:

  • On that front, the Bills are still open to trading Cordy Glenn, per JLC, but the team is not going all-out to unload him. Buffalo has seen Glenn suddenly become a perpetual injury risk after he’d been a durable player before his extension, and the team drafted Dion Dawkins in the second round last year. Glenn has a $6.5MM roster bonus due on March 18 and has a lofty $14.45MM cap number in 2018.
  • Joe Thomas said the Browns‘ moves over the weekend won’t impact his decision to return for a 12th season, but the now-successful podcaster/future Hall of Fame tackle may be leaning toward returning. La Canfora notes the consensus around the league is Thomas will be back with the Browns in 2018. Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal notes Thomas’ decision will likely be known early this week.
  • Jason Peters plans to play in 2018, and Doug Pederson said he expects the former All-Pro left tackle to be back with the Eagles next season. JLC adds the team has made “no attempts” to trade the 36-year-old blocker thus far this offseason. Peters has a $10.6MM cap number this coming season with Philadelphia, which did not have his services for much of its first Super Bowl season. The Eagles, though, are going to need to make some decisions soon. They remain over the cap with free agency three days away.

Joe Thomas: Browns’ Moves Won’t Impact Retirement Decision

Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas previously hinted that he was unsure if he’d continue playing in 2018. While the veteran told ESPN.com’s Pat McManamon that Cleveland’s recent moves were certainly encouraging, he also said that they’d have no impact on his decision to retire or not.

“My decision will be based purely on my health,” Thomas said. “But I’m excited by the moves [general manager] John [Dorsey] made.”

As the writer notes, Thomas previously said that his decision to continue playing would come down to three factors: “Does he still love the game? Can he play at a high level? And is he healthy enough?” After having never missed a start during his first 10 years in the league, Thomas was limited to only nine contests in 2017 after suffering a torn triceps tendon. However, the lineman indicated that it’s injuries to his knee and back that have him considering hanging up his cleats.

The Browns handed Thomas a $3MM raise in November, making him the league’s highest paid offensive lineman in 2018 at a $13.5MM salary. Thomas is due to collect on a $3MM bonus on March 18. His status as the highest-paid lineman is still well deserved, as Pro Football Focus ranked Thomas fourth among 81 offensive tackle candidates.

“I don’t think there’s any real rush at this point,” Thomas previously said about his decision. “Obviously, they want to know before the draft and free agency, so that if they have make different plans if I’m not going to be there, they want to know about it. I told them I’ll make a decision when I’m ready and let them know and give them as much time as I possibly can.”

The Browns were mighty busy last week. On Thomas’ side of the ball, the team added quarterback Tyrod Taylor and wideout Jarvis Landry. With Josh Gordon and a pair of top-five picks, Cleveland could be eyeing their most talented offense in seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Notes: Allen, Mayfield, Thomas

Browns GM John Dorsey holds the No. 1 pick in the draft and he is considering a larger pool of players than you might expect. Speaking to reporters at the site of the Senior Bowl this week, Dorsey indicated that both Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Wyoming’s Josh Allen are in the mix.

In 2013, I had the first pick in the draft with the Kansas City Chiefs, and there really wasn’t a quarterback prospect there,” Dorsey said (via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com). “Actually in this class there are four to five prospects that make you think at least are they worthy of that position. So now I think what you do is you let the process unfold.”

USC’s Sam Darnold and UCLA’s Josh Rosen, of course, are also believed to be in the running. It’s not immediately clear who the fifth player might be, if there is one.

Here’s more on the Browns:

  • We’ve heard rumblings of rookie quarterbacks not wanting to go to the Browns in the past, but Allen says that he would embrace the opportunity to help engineer Cleveland’s comeback. “If I’m fortunate enough to become a Cleveland Brown, you can expect everything from me,” Allen told 92.3 The Fan. “I want to be the guy that turns around the Cleveland Browns. The guy that does that is going to be immortalized in Cleveland forever.”
  • Tackle Joe Thomas, who is still undecided about whether he’ll play in 2018, endorsed the team’s decision to retain coach Hue Jackson in an essay for The MMQB. Thomas was also optimistic about what the future may hold for the Browns, citing the team’s cap room and draft capital. It’s possible that these factors will motivate Thomas to return, but he may also wait until we get closer to the start of free agency to announce his plans.
  • On Wednesday, the Browns formally announced the hiring of former Pittsburgh play caller Todd Haley as their new offensive coordinator.

Browns’ Joe Thomas Discusses Future

Browns tackle Joe Thomas is still undecided about whether he wants to play in 2018. However, he plans on letting the team know his plans sooner rather than later. Joe Thomas (vertical)

I don’t think there’s any real rush at this point,” he told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “Obviously, they want to know before the draft and free agency, so that if they have make different plans if I’m not going to be there, they want to know about it. I told them I’ll make a decision when I’m ready and let them know and give them as much time as I possibly can.”

The Browns gave Thomas a $3MM raise in November which would make him the league’s highest paid offensive lineman in 2018 at a $13.5MM salary. Thomas is due to collect on a $3MM bonus on March 18, but Thomas seems to be indicating that he’ll notify the team in advance of the legal tampering period on March 12.

In 2017, a torn triceps tendon ended Thomas’ NFL-record streak of 10,363 snaps, but that’s not the injury that has him on the fence about playing. Instead, Thomas says its his lingering knee and back issues that have him thinking about walking away.

If Thomas does take the field in 2018, he won’t rule out the possibility of continuing his career into 2019.

I’m not ready to say anything definitively because I’d hate to be wrong,” he said. “Because I’ve seen how a lot of other guys’ careers has ended. I grew up in Wisconsin a Brett Favre fan and I’ve seen how many times he was definitely not going to come play and then he played for the Jets and the Vikings. So I don’t want to say anything definitively. I don’t know. It’s hard to say. But what I can say is this is my last year on my contract in Cleveland. I don’t want to play anywhere else. I guess I haven’t thought that far yet.”

In previous interviews, Thomas indicated that he would be more inclined to play next year if the Browns were positioned to win. The veteran is of the belief that the Browns at least have a chance at a turnaround season.

Honestly, the way I look at 2018 for the Browns is $100MM in cap space, the first and the fourth pick,” he said. “If you look back historically, if you added two guys in free agency that were both $25MM a year, you could assume that they’re probably Hall of Fame-caliber. Then you add a first pick and a fourth pick who presumably could be Hall of Fame guys, or more likely probably Pro Bowl guys, you’ve now added four blue chip players to your roster. Now you’re totally transformed your team.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Osweiler, Cousins, Jim Harbaugh

The Broncos have tried to tinker their playbook a bit to suit Brock Osweiler‘s strengths, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). However, Rapoport calls tonight’s matchup with New England Osweiler’s final audition, and if he should continue to struggle, Paxton Lynch — who is reportedly getting healthier — will be given the chance to show what he can do.

Now for more rumors from the AFC (we rounded up some NFC nuggets earlier today):

  • Rich Cimini of ESPN.com believes that the Jets‘ chances to acquire Kirk Cousins in the offseason improved after Jimmy Garoppolo was traded to San Francisco, thereby (presumably) taking the 49ers out of contention for Cousins’ services. Of course, it all depends on what Washington does, but Cimini thinks New York will make a major QB acquisition one way or another. He thinks the club will either pursue Cousins or another quality veteran (like Alex Smith, should he become available) or else trade up for one of the top signal-callers in the draft.
  • Browns LT Joe Thomas is battling an injured triceps that has knocked him out for the remainder of the season, and he remains undecided about his future, even though Cleveland gave him a pay raise for the 2018 season. As Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com writes, however, the Browns’ outlook could play a role in his decision. Thomas said, “Is it going to be for trying to pursue a championship or are we trying to pursue a playoff berth or are we trying to pursue a first pick overall? Those are all things that could play into that decision.”
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says that, when the 49ers were considering trading former head coach Jim Harbaugh, the Browns offered San Francisco two third-round picks and offered Harbaugh a five-year, $40MM contract. Harbaugh, though, did not want to go to Cleveland, but sources close to the current University of Michigan head coach say his eventual return to the league is “inevitable.”
  • Rookie Gareon Conley might be the Raiders‘ most talented corner, but he has only been able to appear in two games in 2017 due to a shin injury that has taken longer than expected to heal. Per Scott Bair of NBCSports.com, Conley’s prospects for the remainder of the year will become clearer this week. If he is able to return to practice, he could work his way back into the mix. If not, Oakland will place him on injured reserve, thereby ending his first professional season.

Browns’ Joe Thomas On Future, Raise

Last week, the Browns gave injured offensive tackle Joe Thomas a pay bump for both this year and next year. The gesture was appreciated by the veteran, but he tells Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal that he is still undecided about his future. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from Thomas’ Q&A with Ulrich:

On whether his declaration that he doesn’t “want to go out like this” means that he’ll play in 2018:

I’ve told everybody that I’m going to sit down kind of after the season and take my time and make a decision when you’re in a little bit better mental state. Because right after you get hurt, your emotions are up and down, and during the season is a hard time to kind of make serious decisions on your career. So the offseason will be a time when I make a decision on that, but I think that [feeling] will certainly play into it. Joe Thomas (vertical)

But on the other hand, you don’t get to choose how things end. Everybody wants the Jerome Bettis — what I mentioned in that column — where you go to your hometown, you win the Super Bowl and you ride off into the sunset. That’s the dream, but 1 in 100,000 players get to realize that. Even Brett Favre, you look at how he ended his career, losing the NFC Championship Game and getting hurt. What a great career, and he wanted to have that moment where you win the Super Bowl and you ride off into the sunset, but in the NFL, you don’t get to pick your exit strategy for the most part.

So if you do decide to come back and you say, “I don’t want to go out getting injured,” well, there’s no guarantee you’re not going to get injured again. So you have to be realistic about the possible outcomes of everything.

On the pay raise:

It’s just the way that the team shows their love and appreciation for you…The conversation came up about two years ago actually. So they’ve been talking about giving me a market adjustment for my contract since I did sign it so long ago [in 2011] and since I’ve tried to go about my business as well as I possibly can, representing the organization, playing as well as I can, trying to be a team player, and they felt a market adjustment was not only good for me, of course, but good for them, good for their business, because when you reward players when you don’t have to, that sends a message to the locker room that says, “If you do the right things and you put yourself on the line for this team, we’ll reward you, even if you’re under contract.”

Because in the NFL, it’s a one-sided contract. When the team is ready to get rid of you, they just cut you if you’re not playing up to your contract. If you’re outplaying your contract, your only possibility of getting your raise or a market value adjustment is to either make a huge stink, demand a trade or hold out. I told them that’s not the type of person I am. So I think they realized it’s the right thing to do, and it sends a good message going forward to the rest of the players in the locker room.

On whether the Browns can turn things around after the failed A.J. McCarron trade:

In the NFL, winning cures all, and when you lose, it makes everything worse, and it magnifies all the little things that go on in every building. But you only make a big deal about it when the losing is attached to it. For us, it’s just a matter of turning things around and start getting some W’s. I don’t think it’s necessarily any big issue or any different than any other NFL front office. It’s just a matter of getting those wins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Give Raise To Joe Thomas

The Browns are doing right by Joe Thomas. The offensive tackle has been given a pay bump for the current year as well as next season, as detailed by ESPN.com’s Field YatesJoe Thomas (vertical)

Thomas has been given $3MM in new money between 2017 and 2018, including a $1.5MM roster bonus that was paid out to him earlier this week. The other $1.5MM comes from a pay raise for next year. With that extra cash for ’18, Thomas is slated to make $13.5MM, giving him the highest salary of any offensive lineman in the league next year.

The Browns didn’t necessarily have to give Thomas the pay bump since he is already signed through next year. It’s possible that the bonus is to help talk Thomas out of retirement – he said over the summer that he was thinking about hanging ’em up after this season. It could also just be a goodwill gesture towards for Cleveland’s longest-tenured player.

Remarkably, Thomas has made the Pro Bowl in all ten of his professional seasons. He won’t be going to the Pro Bowl this year, however, after a triceps injury shut him down after seven games. Up until that injury, Thomas had logged 10,363 straight snaps on the field.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Place OT Joe Thomas On IR

Browns stalwart left tackle Joe Thomas suffered a torn triceps in Sunday’s loss to the Titans and will miss the remainder of the season, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) was the first to report Thomas had likely torn his triceps. The Browns have since placed Thomas on injured reserve.Joe Thomas (vertical)

Thomas, 32, had not missed a single offensive snap since entering the league as a first-round pick in 2007. That streak is now over at 10,363, but that figure stands as a testament to Thomas’ amazing consistency and resiliency. And Thomas, a nine-time All Pro, hasn’t yet hit a decline, as Pro Football Focus ranked him as the No. 3 offensive tackle in the league through seven weeks.

The winless Browns turned to Spencer Drango to replace Thomas on Sunday, making the 2016 fifth-round selection the first player other than Thomas to man left tackle in Cleveland since 2006. Drango will presumably continue on the blindside for Cleveland — which ranks a mediocre 18th in both adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate — but the Browns could also conceivably take a look at fellow tackle Zach Banner, a fourth-round rookie whom Cleveland acquired off waivers from Indianapolis.

With Thomas done for the year, any chance of the Browns reaping draft pick compensation for him via trade is eliminated. Cleveland reportedly had “no intention” of dealing Thomas, who has been oft-mentioned in trade rumors given the Browns’ lack of success on the field and his status as the club’s best player, and Thomas’ health questions would render any theoretical discussions moot. Thomas is signed through the 2018 season, and has a $8.8MM base salary on the books for next season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Chargers, Cutler, Thomas

The LA Chargers experiment has come under fire from some for their small stadium, high prices and noticeable attendance from the road fanbases over the first six weeks of the NFL season. However, a Chargers team representative reportedly defended the move during last week’s owners meetings, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. La Canfora points out that the team does have a few years to get things right before they move into the new Inglewood stadium that will be shared with their Hollywood rival Rams. Although, there’s still concern about the lack of a Plan B if things continue to sputter for the newly relocated franchise. In addition to facing the challenge of capturing attention of the fanbase from the now 5-2 Rams, the Chargers are set in a smaller stadium and less certainty off the gridiron as well, even though it would seem that the team’s ownership group is not backing down from the problems that have stemmed from their controversial move from San Diego.

  • Jay Cutler will soon undergo X-Rays on his ribs due to an injury he suffered in today’s game vs. the Jets, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter Link). Rapoport adds that team officials fear he has suffered cracked ribs, but will “check it all”. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com adds that he is now hearing Cutler may be out for the next 2-3 weeks. The injury adds to what has been a pedestrian season for the once retired 34 year-old. Through six games, he’s accumulated a QBR in the 30s, throwing almost as many picks as touchdowns (7 TD-5 INT). For the time being, Miami will turn to backup Matt Moore who led the team to a second half comeback in today’s win over New York.
  • In another injury news, All-Pro Browns tackle Joe Thomas had his consecutive snaps streak broken after exiting with an apparent left arm injury. The injury represents another blow to what has been another gloomy season in Cleveland. The veteran lineman sent out a personal tweet after today’s game confirming that he will undergo an MRI tomorrow. Thomas has been a staple on the Browns offensive line since he was drafted by the team third overall in 2006. He played an incredible 10,363 offensive snaps until he exited today, which truly shows that grit and toughness of arguably best offensive lineman in the league for the past decade.
  • Patriots highly-paid cornerback Stephon Gilmore sat out last week after suffering a concussion when he collided with the Bucs Mike Evans in Week 5. However, even with Gilmore and fellow corner Eric Rowe sidelined, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com opines that the team is more likely to promote a player for the practice squad than sign a veteran free agent like Leon Hall. Without Gilmore, the Pats will be relying Malcolm Butler, Johnson Bademosi and Jonathan Jones in the short-term.
  • Jags rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook is eligible to come off the IR after week 8 and he could be a welcomed deep ball threat for an offense that lost Allen Robinson early in the season, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. DiRocco cautioned that the team’s 2017 fourth round pick hasn’t played an NFL snap, but could operate as the Jags third wideout behind Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns because of his speed and big play ability. Jacksonville had struggled passing the ball through the first six weeks of the season, but found their rhythm today, albeit against a struggling Colts defense.

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