A day after acquiring Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis, the Denver Broncos wanted to add another piece for their offense. They targeted Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, arguably the best player at his position who could help keep quarterback Peyton Manning upright. However, a deal to bring the All-Pro lineman to Denver fell through before the Tuesday's trade deadline when the teams failed to agree on compensation, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
At one point on Tuesday, the Browns were seeking two first-round picks in order to part with their All-Pro blindside protector. However, according to ESPN's Dianna Marie Russini, the potential deal would have sent Thomas and a fourth-round pick to Denver for the Broncos' first- and second-round picks in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Denver's interest in Thomas likely stems from the season-ending shoulder injury to rookie Ty Sambrailo. With Sambrailo on the sidelines, the Broncos were forced to move right tackle Ryan Harris over to the left with second-year man Michael Schofield stepping into Harris' old spot. Thomas would have allowed the team to return Harris to his natural position and improved the unit overall.
As for Cleveland, any interest in dealing its franchise left tackle likely results from the team's dismal record. With the Browns seemingly headed for their eighth consecutive losing season, perhaps dealing Thomas for a bevy of draft picks could have made a bigger difference in 2016. It would have also given Thomas a chance to play for a winning team, an experience he hasn't had since his rookie year in 2007.
The 30-year-old Thomas has started every game since being taken with the third pick of the 2007 draft, and has been voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his eight seasons. He's also been selected first-team All-Pro five times and to the second team twice.
Thomas said after Sunday's loss to Arizona that he did not want to leave the Browns.
"I'm not a quitter,'' Thomas told Cleveland.com. "I'm not a guy that gives up on my goals and my goal from day one was to be part of the turnaround here and that hasn't changed. I want to finish my career here."
With left tackle considered the most important position on the offensive line, it was obvious that there would be numerous suitors when word leaked last week that Thomas might be on the trading block. Even though he turns 31 next month, he is still playing at a high level, and has a cap-friendly contract. He has three years left on his contract after this season, at a total of $29.5 million, but could be waived with no dead money if his performance were to suddenly drop.
* * *