The Cleveland Browns are a year and a half into their latest regime, with Sashi Brown and Hue Jackson at the helm. That is more years than games they have won so far. Considering that they have played 24 games within that span, one might say that their success rate is pretty bad.
Arguably the only source of consistency throughout this trying period—and through the last several trying periods—in Cleveland has been left tackle Joe Thomas. Or had been, one should say, given that he was lost for the year a couple of weeks ago after suffering a torn triceps muscle, his first notable injury in his career.
Thomas, a future Hall of Famer without question, has been literally the only player to not only be retained by the Browns through several regimes, but to want to be. Cleveland has lost a number of very good players via free agency simply because they wanted to find more success on the football field.
Yet while Thomas has stuck around for the long haul, and the next rebuild and the next and the next, part of the decision was easy. He had been healthy. He literally never missed a snap in his entire career before his injury.
Now he’s not so sure about his future in the league anymore, to return to another struggling Browns team. He has made his money and gotten his accolades, and it’s hard to find much more to play for after a decade of losing. Even his teammates have talked about the resilience he’s shown through repetitive defeat.
Which is why he has talked about the fact that he has to consider his future as he recovers from this injury, which itself is a new experience for him, and about if he wants to keep playing. And is also why the Browns just gave him a raise, or so I would assume.
According to Field Yates, Cleveland over the weekend amended his contract to add an additional $3 million over the course of the 2017 and 2018 seasons, including a $1.5 million roster bonus he has just been paid upfront and an additional $1.5 million tacked on to his base salary for next year.
The ESPN reporter notes that his 2018 base salary now stands at $10.3 million, which he says is the highest of any offensive lineman in the league currently on the books for next year.
One might say that the raise is of dual purpose. On the one hand, it’s a reward for his years of tireless and dedicated service, retaining the highest level of play in spite of great external motivation to do so.
It also, naturally, sweetens the plot ever so slightly—in relative terms, of course; there’s little I wouldn’t do for a year if paid $1.5 million to do so—to entice him to return next year. Soon to be 33, everybody knows his time is coming up. But it doesn’t have to be now. For the good of the league, I hope he returns.