Browns left tackle Joe Thomas is calling it a career after 11 seasons.
“This was an extremely difficult decision, but the right one for me and my family,” Thomas said, via the team website. “Playing in the NFL has taken a toll on my body and I can no longer physically compete at the level I need to.”
“From the moment I was drafted, the city embraced me in a way that I could never fully describe. I am proud to call Cleveland home. The loyalty and passion of the fans is unmatched and it was an honor to play in front of them from the past 11 years. I would like to thank all of the coaches, teammates, staff, fans and everyone who has shown me support throughout my career. Even though I will be hanging up my cleats, I will always be a Cleveland Brown.”
Thomas had marked the start of free agency today as his self-imposed deadline for a decision on his future. He had acknowledged at a fundraiser Tuesday night that he was excited about the Browns’ offseason moves, but that it might not be enough to bring him back for another season.
The Browns knew the longer it took Thomas to decide the less likely he was to return, which is why they pursued several tackles in free agency, including Nate Solder, who agreed to a deal with the Giants.