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Browns Joe Thomas says decision 'right around the corner'

Browns Joe Thomas says decision 'right around the corner'
Posted at 8:20 AM, Mar 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-14 08:21:09-04

Browns star tackle Joe Thomas said his decision on whether to keep playing or retire is "right around the corner."

During an on-stage interview Tuesday night at an awards show in downtown Cleveland, Thomas remained noncommittal when discussing his future. The 33-year-old and 10-time Pro Bowler has been mulling retirement since his 2017 season ended prematurely because of a torn left triceps.

"As far a decision goes, we're still kind of working through that process," Thomas said while speaking to a crowd during the Cleveland Chapter of Positive Coaching Alliance's inaugural Youth Sports Impact Awards Dinner. "I'm keeping the Browns apprised of everything I'm doing and trying to make the best decision for myself and for the team, and when that decision comes, I'm not quite sure just yet, but I know hopefully it'll be soon, right around the corner."

Thomas said his rehab has gone well, and that he mostly has full function in his arm.

Thomas has said several times that he planned to give the Browns a decision before the start of free agency, which began on Monday with the "legal tampering" period and picks up steam when teams can begin signing players at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

New Browns general manager John Dorsey has been active in recent days overhauling the team's roster. Dorsey reached agreement on four trades and he figures to be just as busy in free agency. The Browns were $113 million under the salary cap before their recent flurry of transactions.

Thomas, who has never played in the postseason and just endured an 0-16 season, is excited about Cleveland's additions.

"I think the future is really bright," Thomas said. "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."

Out of respect, the Browns are giving Thomas all the time and space he needs to make his decision. But as they wait to hear from him, the club has been examining the free-agent market to potentially find his replacement.

The team reached agreement Tuesday with tackle Chris Hubbard on a five-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Hubbard will sign his deal Wednesday, when teams are permitted to finalize contracts.

Hubbard primarily plays right tackle, but he gives the Browns more options in case Thomas retires.

The Browns also are expected to pursue New England's Nate Solder, who has spent the past seven years protecting Tom Brady's blindside. It's possible that if Thomas returned, Solder could switch to the right side for a season.

Only one of five players in history selected to the Pro Bowl in his first 10 seasons, Thomas had never missed a snap in his career before he got hurt while blocking on a running play against Tennessee on Oct. 22. The injury snapped his streak of 10,363 consecutive snaps, a remarkable run of durability.

Thomas is sent to earn a $3 million roster bonus on Sunday, which does give him some more time to make a decision. He'll make an additional $10.3 million in salary next season.

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BROWNS 2020 SCHEDULE

Preseason

WEEK 1 · Aug. 13-17 · At Chicago Bears - CANCELED

WEEK 2 · Aug. 20-24 · At Green Bay Packers - CANCELED

WEEK 3 · Aug. 30 · Minnesota Vikings - CANCELED

WEEK 4 · Sep. 3-4 · Tampa Bay Buccaneers - CANCELED

Regular Season

WEEK 1 · Sun 9/13 · 1:00 PM EST at Baltimore Ravens (CBS)

WEEK 2 · Thu 9/17 · 8:20 PM EST Cincinnati Bengals (NFL Network)

WEEK 3 · Sun 9/27 · 1:00 PM EST Washington Redskins (FOX)

WEEK 4 · Sun 10/4 · 1:00 PM EST at Dallas Cowboys (FOX)

WEEK 5 · Sun 10/11 · 4:25 PM EST Indianapolis Colts (CBS)

WEEK 6 · Sun 10/18 · 1:00 PM EST at Pittsburgh Steelers (CBS)

WEEK 7 · Sun 10/25 · 1:00 PM EST at Cincinnati Bengals (CBS)

WEEK 8 · Sun 11/1 · 1:00 PM EST Las Vegas Raiders (FOX)

WEEK 9 · BYE

WEEK 10 · Sun 11/15 · 1:00 PM EST Houston Texans (FOX)

WEEK 11 · Sun 11/22 · 1:00 PM EST Philadelphia Eagles (FOX)

WEEK 12 · Sun 11/29 · 1:00 PM EST at Jacksonville Jaguars (CBS)

WEEK 13 · Sun 12/6 · 1:00 PM EST at Tennessee Titans (CBS)

WEEK 14 · Mon 12/14 · 8:15 PM EST Baltimore Ravens (ESPN)

WEEK 15 · Sun 12/20 · 1:00 PM EST at New York Giants (CBS)

WEEK 16 · Dec. 27-27 · TBD at New York Jets

WEEK 17 · Sun 1/3 · 1:00 PM EST Pittsburgh Steelers (CBS)