Though the Cleveland Browns have been anywhere between mediocre and terrible for what seems like ages, such misery should not take away from the illustrious career of offensive lineman Joe Thomas.
On March 14, 2018, Thomas announced his retirement from professional football after 11 years at tackle. Throughout these 11 years, Thomas was a Pro Bowl selection at left tackle 10 times.
Thomas, a product of the University of Wisconsin, suffered a tricep injury on October 22, 2017, during a home game against the Tennessee Titans and was forced to leave the game. It would be the first time the Browns did not have him at left tackle since December 31, 2006. After the injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season, the Browns fittingly finished the season with a 0-16 record.
According to Sports Illustrated, Thomas played through three MCL sprains, two high ankle sprains, and a torn LCL throughout his 11 seasons. He stood at left tackle for 10,363 consecutive snaps, played under six head coaches and protected over 20 quarterbacks. Such a career is monumental for any NFL lineman, let alone a Cleveland Browns lineman, and it is a safe bet that Joe Thomas can enjoy a future in the Hall of Fame.
Upon looking at the offseason so far, an optimist would say the Browns are on the come-up. Recent free agency moves and the promise of plentiful draft picks promise a small chance at a better season. The acquisition of former Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry gives the offense a glimmer of hope, as well as the additions of former San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde and Tyrod Taylor, previously a quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. On defense, Cleveland acquired defensive back Damarious Randall who was recently released by the Green Bay Packers.
The Browns have twelve picks in the 2018 draft, including the first and fourth overall picks. Several college standouts are available for the Browns, including Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, North Carolina State defensive lineman Bradley Chubb and several high-profile quarterbacks. Though the Browns will be moving on without Joe Thomas at left tackle, they have the tools to improve. Here’s to hoping they can capitalize on these opportunities and give Browns fans a reason to look forward to Sundays.