Why Browns would be crazy to trade Joe Thomas

Cleveland is rumored to be considering trading away star left tackle Joe Thomas. Sam Monson argues for why that's an awful idea.

| 12 months ago
(AP Photo/David Richard)

(AP Photo/David Richard)

Why Browns would be crazy to trade Joe Thomas

The Cleveland Browns are 2-6. With the Cincinnati Bengals undefeated at 7-0 the division is very close to already wrapped up, and nobody in Cleveland is kidding themselves into thinking their Wild Card playoff hopes are realistic.

That’s why talk like this has emerged: The Browns are considering trading center Alex Mack and left tackle Joe Thomas.

Mack can opt out of his deal after this season, so trading him makes a certain degree of sense, as it does for 2013 first-round pick Barkevious Mingo, who has also wound up on the block.

But what about for Thomas, the NFL’s premier left tackle?

Thomas has a very team-friendly contract, with no guaranteed money, a roster bonus of just $1 million and a total cap hit of $9.5 million for 2016, and two more years after that in which his cap hit never exceeds $10 million according to overthecap.com. That figure would be the fifth-highest salary cap mark this season for left tackles, for a player who has been the best tackle in the game for almost the entirety of his NFL career.

As things stand, he is our top-ranked tackle with a grade of 94.6, firmly in the elite bracket and just clear of Dallas’ Tyron Smith in second place.

What is perhaps my favorite Joe Thomas stat is that he has missed one snap in his entire NFL career.

The Browns know they need ammunition to rebuild, but if you trade Thomas the first thing you need to do is make sure you have a viable left tackle in place. Cleveland has been spoiled by being able to forget about that spot and take it for granted for the last nine years, but it’s worth looking across the rest of the NFL landscape and appreciating just how much worse the situation can get.

Five tackles have already surrendered more than 30 total pressures this season. Thomas has allowed more than 30 in a season just once in his career, and averages only 23 over each season he has played.

Bad offensive tackles have the ability to almost single-handedly disrupt an offense, and it has never been more difficult to secure a quality tackle than right now. Even teams that take one in the top few picks of the draft are far from guaranteed success given the fortunes of recent seasons, and even those that are seeing the return in that investment have had to suffer through growing pains.

Thomas isn’t just one of the Browns best players, he is one of the best players in football, with a cap-friendly contract, a connection to the team and city, a desire to be part of the team’s turnaround and is showing no sign of declining play despite being over 30 years old.

There are players that the Browns might be wise to trade away – guys who have failed to live up to their billing or players that the team might realistically hope to replace from within without suffering too much of a drop-off in performance. Joe Thomas is not one of them. The chances of replacing Thomas directly and not experiencing a colossal weakening at the position is negligible. All trading Thomas does for you is open up a gaping wound in the roster that could take years to heal.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • Jaguars28

    Poor guy has had to block for so many awful quarterbacks…

    • anonymus


  • Brit

    If Thomas is that good with such a friendly contract, then he should be able to command that much more in a trade. If someone offered eight first round picks for him, it would be a steal for Cleveland. If someone offered a conditional 7th rounder for him, it’s an awful deal. Somewhere in between those extremes is a good deal for both teams.

    • TeddyRoos

      Before you make a statement like that think back on the Browns last 8 number ones. We’d be trading a HOFer for misery.

      • Anthony c

        exactly… given the browns history in drafting that would be a horrible trade. we give up the best player in the position that isn’t taking much money and throw him away for probably more draft picks that are highly unlikely to work out. Our draft history isn’t exactly good.

    • Tyler Ferree

      Realistically unless you are talking a franchize quarterback on a reasonably team friendly contract the ceiling in terms of draft compensation is roughly what the Jets got for Revis a couple years ago, a 1 and a conditional 4.

  • The Mysteries of Bob

    Ray Farmer is such a moron.

    Claims the Browns were right at not drafting any WRs because “big name WRs don’t win the Super Bowl” then contradicts himself putting o-linemen, the definition of non-skill position players, in the trade block.

    • paul mcphie

      Farmer must go and a director of player personal must be hired

  • SPB

    If Haslam has any sense at all he will replace Farmer with someone who can evaluate talent.

    • McGeorge

      >>If Haslam has any sense at all

      Ha ha ha , that’s a good one.

  • http://nintendopapercraftvideos.wordpress.com/ Sam

    I’m okay with them getting rid of Haden and Mack for 1st rounders and Kruger and Mingo for whatever. But not Thomas.

  • Tim Edell

    Brady has 0 All Pro Linemen blocking for him unless you consider Vollmer who was a 2nd team All Pro. Manning has 1 All Pro blocking for him in Mathis.

    • Hawk7458

      Historically! Do you get the point? A great o line can make almost any QB and running back look good!

      • Tim Edell

        Ummm historically neither has had many All Pro Ol playing with them. Both posses unbelievable quick releases that benefit their OL. To say where would they both be without All Pro OL does not make sense!!

        • Hawk7458

          I believe this whole thing started because you said the offensive lineman were not athletes or important.

          • Tim Edell

            I believe your wrong?? The whole started because you incorrectly stated manning and brady have been protected by all pro ol. At least get your facts correct junior!!

    • Hawk7458

      Look at how often he has had to run in his whole career!Cutler was sacked 46 times his first year! And all it does is get worse! Do you actually watch the games?

  • Pj

    Most overrated player ever (Thomas).

  • crosseyedlemon

    The Rapoport tweat provides the classic “sources say” reference so it’s probably best to just ignore this rumor until someone in the Browns front office is willing to go on record that the team is shopping these guys around the league.

  • McGeorge

    If I was the Browns GM, I’d trade Thomas and get draft picks, so I could trade up and draft another bust QB in 2106, maintaining the pattern. 😉

    In all seriousness, if they draft another QB, how will that QB develop with a bad Oline?
    To get rid of Thomas opens a big hole that needs to be filled with … draft picks.