Joe Thomas lays out a plan for the Browns offseason
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns have a monumental offseason ahead of them and Joe Thomas has a plan for how he would like to see it all play out.
Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns is a lot of things.
At the top of the list is his standing as one of the best left tackles to ever play the game, one that is almost a lock to be a first-ballot entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame once his playing days are finished. (And won’t that be some kind of day in Canton, Browns fans?)
He also looks to have the potential for a promising broadcasting career once he retires and, from all outward appearances, seems like an all-around good guy.
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But how much of a prognosticator he is will be revealed in the coming months as general manager John Dorsey navigates his way through free agency and the 2018 NFL Draft.
Thomas has been making the media rounds this week, spending a couple of days at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., and penning an article for Monday Morning Quarterback.
It was that particular MMQB piece that caught everyone’s attention as Thomas laid out what his plan would be if he were running the Browns front office.
As Thomas wrote, it’s time to make a splash in free agency and then nail the first round of the draft:
"“We have more than $100 million in cap space; we could sign three Kirk Cousins if we wanted to. We could legitimately add three Hall of Fame players in free agency if they’re out there. We have an upcoming No. 1 pick who could transform the roster by himself. You throw an experienced quarterback in the mix and there’s nothing that says the Browns can’t make the playoffs next year.”"
As to which player would transform the roster, Thomas elaborated during an appearance with ESPN’s Trey Wingo that he would be on board with the Browns selecting Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and an unnamed defensive player. (We’ll save everyone the trouble and just assume that Thomas would like to see Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick in Orange and Brown this fall.)
It is an interesting scenario and one that is not outside the realm of possibility for the Browns.
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If the club decides to fix the quarterback problem before the draft, Cousins, who has been the full-time starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins for the past three seasons, would be the most-likely target in free agency. Signing Cousins as a free agent, as opposed to making a trade for a player like Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith, would “only” cost the Browns money, rather than draft picks.
Of course, it is difficult to place a value on Cousins, who will likely be looking for a deal that averages out to around $30 million a year after playing the past two seasons under the franchise tag.
The idea that “money doesn’t matter” is a bit naive as at that price a team needs a quarterback who is going to be pretty much a lock to take them to the conference championship game — at a minimum. Simply being better that what the team currently has is not enough.
Cousins remains a conundrum when it comes to that part of the discussion. There is no questioning he puts up big stats, but with only one playoff appearance and no playoff wins in three seasons, are those passing stats really worth $30 million or more a year?
Next: The Kirk Cousins conundrum
As to the draft, selecting Barkley and then a playmaker on defense would certainly go over well with the fan base — just as long as one or more of the quarterbacks the Browns pass on doesn’t go on to major success while the Browns are paying Cousins his record-setting contract.
Thomas brought up some solid talking points with his media blitz this week. The coming months will tell us if he prediction skills are on the same level as his playing skills.