Cleveland’s Joe Thomas has been arguably the best offensive tackle in football since entering the NFL. The third overall pick in 2007, Thomas has been named a Pro Bowler in each of his eight NFL seasons. He’s also been a seven-time All-Pro, with five first-team nods.
So yeah, he’s good – and on Tuesday, he almost became a Bronco.
Cleveland and Denver discussed a potential deal for Thomas, but nothing materialized before the deadline. Thomas is a loyal guy, and most players hate being traded by the team that drafted them, but a chance to go from the 2-6 Browns to the 7-0 Broncos? That doesn’t happen every day.
“Yeah, I think Joe wouldn’t be that upset,” NFL Network analyst and Super Bowl champion Shaun O’Hara said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I think initially he would be. But to know that you’re going to play for an undefeated team, you’re going to play in Denver – you got a shot. You’re definitely going to be in the postseason, but you got a shot of winning a Super Bowl. I think that Joe is a loyal guy and it would be hard for him to say goodbye to Cleveland. But when you look at the Browns, they’re a hot mess right now, and they’re not going to see the postseason anytime soon. So I think Joe would have loved that opportunity, but his heart is probably in Cleveland and he would have hated to leave those guys – Joel Bitonio, Alex Mack, some of the other offensive linemen and those guys in Cleveland. Because you don’t want to leave your boys, especially halfway through the season, but I’ll tell you what: it’s a lot better than getting traded to another losing team.”
The Browns play the Bengals (7-0) in Cincinnati on Thursday and plan to start Johnny Manziel under center. Thomas’ absence likely wouldn’t have been felt this week.
With the way Manziel plays, it really doesn’t matter who’s blocking for him.
“He’s going to run around anyways,” O’Hara said. “It doesn’t matter who’s blocking for him. He’s going to run around in his little chicken-with-his-head-cut-off kind of scramble, but I don’t think Johnny is really even focused on that. I think he’s so concerned with trying to do his job and making sure he keeps his head above water. But this whole Joe Thomas thing, I don’t fault Joe Thomas and I really don’t even fault the Browns for taking the phone call. I think the Denver Broncos were very aggressive in trying to find a left tackle and they pitched it to the Browns.”
The Browns listened.
“I don’t know what they asked for, but if they could have traded Joe Thomas for two first-round picks or a first-round pick next year and a second-round pick and a couple big, high picks, I think it would have been a great move for the Browns,” O’Hara said. “But they gave the Denver Broncos their offer, and Denver said, ‘Nope, that’s too rich.’ So you almost have to commend Ray Farmer for not trading away Joe Thomas for a bad deal. He asked for the moon and they said no, and (the Browns) said, ‘Okay, well thanks for asking.’”