Cleveland Browns  

 

Browns make Thomas one of league's highest-paid players

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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Joe Thomas' goal when he entered the NFL was to spend his entire career with one team. The Cleveland Browns have made that possible.

The team locked up its steady All-Pro left tackle on Monday by reaching agreement with Thomas on a seven-year contract extension that makes him one of the highest-paid offensive linemen in NFL history.

Agent Peter Schaffer would not provide financial terms of the deal, but a league source told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora that the deal is worth around $84 million, including more than $40 million guaranteed. It is by far the largest amount of guaranteed money given to an offensive lineman.

Schaffer told The Associated Press on Monday night that the sides had been working on the deal for some time and that he was pleased his 26-year-old client will have long-term security with the Browns.

"This is all Joe wanted," Schaffer said.

A Browns spokesman said the team has no announcement planned.

Thomas said he's thrilled to be staying in Cleveland.

"I am just so excited that I get to continue my career with the Cleveland Browns," Thomas said in an email to The Associated Press. "I think something really special is happening here and it makes me very happy to get to start and finish my career in front of the best fans in the NFL. I love the city, fans, and the organization, and I just want to thank coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to continue to play for this great and storied franchise."

Thomas, who has been selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his four NFL seasons and is a two-time first-team All-Pro, was entering the final year of the rookie contract he signed after being taken with the No. 3 overall selection in the 2007 NFL Draft. Last week, Thomas said he was excited about the direction the Browns were headed under president Mike Holmgren, Heckert and Shurmur, the Browns' first-year coach.

"There's now a very solid plan," Thomas said. "Everybody in this organization is rowing the ship in the same direction -- for once."

Schaffer said Thomas did not want to make a big deal about his extension, and chose to keep it private.

In only a few weeks of training camp, Thomas has been pleased with the Browns' improvement under Shurmur, his third head coach in less than five seasons.

"I've been really impressed," Thomas said. "The staff they have put together is phenomenal with the number of guys who have been head coaches in the league. A lot of different experiences, and they've coached in a lot of different styles, a lot of different schemes and systems. They're really focused on teaching and I think that's the thing that has impressed me most about coach Shurmur. He's a really hands-on teacher. He's on the field coaching (quarterback) Colt McCoy up for every read and every throw. He's talking to the receivers. He's talking to the offensive linemen and tight ends. He's throwing his two cents in there on defense.

"It's been great."

Thomas has started all 64 games and has not missed an offensive snap since joining the Browns, a fact not lost on a fan base that admires hard workers. The 6-foot-6, 312-pounder first endeared himself to Browns fans on draft day four years ago, when instead of joining the other top draft picks on stage at New York's Radio City Music Hall, Thomas instead went fishing with his father and some buddies in Wisconsin.

Thomas' work ethic and leadership skills are what set him apart for Shurmur.

"Joe is a steady guy, which you need from an offensive lineman," he said. "He's a guy that comes out here every day and works. Every once in a while he can be vocal, I wouldn't say that's his nature to just be exerting himself verbally. There's time within a practice or within a day when something needs to get said and he'll step right to the front and say it. I have a great appreciation for what he is as a player and a man."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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