Considered by many the best offensive lineman in the NFL, Browns OLT Joe Thomas will now be paid like one after reaching an agreement with the team on a new contract Monday evening.
Thomas, who is entering his fifth season in the NFL, will sign a seven-year deal worth $84 million, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Of that total, $44 million is guaranteed.
The third pick in the 2007 draft out of Wisconsin, Thomas has been an elite player since Day One for the Browns. He has started all 64 games during his professional career and reached the Pro Bowl at the conclusion of every season since he's been in the league. During the offseason, his NFL colleagues voted Thomas the 43rd best player in the entire league.
Thomas told the Plain-Dealer that finishing his career in Cleveland and winning a championship were two of his primary goals, and that this new contract makes both of them more realistic.
"Sometimes we've had to take one step back to take steps forward, but I see the direction this thing is headed and I want to be part of the championship," he told the newspaper.
"No question, that was a big goal of mine coming in, was to be able to start and finish with the Cleveland Browns, and it means so much to me."
The way we see it
The Browns' rebuilding plan involves a lot of young players, but none is more important — or talented — than Thomas. A bulldozing left tackle, Thomas is one of the league's premier players and a wise investment for a team that has lacked star power in recent years.