CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Joe Thomas hasn’t decided if he’ll play for the Cleveland Browns in 2018.
And he isn’t leaning one way or the other – at least that is what he is willing to say publicly.
“There’s some days you go back and forth,” Thomas said Wednesday night at the 18th annual Greater Cleveland Sports Awards.
“I’m making progress [on the decision],” Thomas added. “Have had a lot of time to think and spend some time with the family but not ready to definitively make a decision one way of the other just yet.”
Thomas, a 10-time Pro Bowler and presumed future Hall of Famer, hopes to inform the Browns of his decision prior to free agency, which begins on March 14.
“I don’t think there’s any real rush at this point,” Thomas said. “Obviously, they want to know before the draft and free agency, so that if they have make different plans if I’m not going to be there, they want to know about it. I told them I’ll make a decision when I’m ready and let them know and give them as much time as I possibly can.”
Thomas, along with former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, presented the ‘Male and Female High School Athlete of the Year’ awards, which went to Wadsworth quarterback and 2017’s Ohio Mr. Football Joey Baughman and Brecksville-Broadview Heights volleyball star Shannon Williams.
Thomas was also honored for his consecutive snaps streak that ended at 10,363 when he tore his left triceps tendon in the third quarter of a 12-9 loss to Tennessee on Oct. 22.
“It’s funny because during the season, year seven, I had a back spasm that lasted four weeks. Couldn’t practice. Basically couldn’t tie my own shoes,” Thomas said. “And I go, ‘This is my last year. There’s no way I can do this another season.’ And I made it four more after that. So it’s weird the highs and lows that you go through during a season, especially because of the emotional and physical toll a game takes on you.”
Thomas just had a positive medical checkup on his left elbow but he is still months away from being cleared to play football again, which he anticipated wouldn’t come until June or July at the earliest.
“The elbow is something that’ll take care of itself,” Thomas said. “I feel confident the rehab has gone well and it will continue to go well. Really for me, knee and back are the primary issues that I’ve been dealing with a number of years.”
Thomas won’t be influenced by anything that transpires around the team or how the offseason is progressing for them. He is optimistic about new general manager John Dorsey’s ability to turn over $110 million in salary cap space as well as 4 of the top 35 picks in the NFL Draft that can come turn the team around quickly.
“If you look back historically, if you added two guys in free agency that were both $25 million a year, you could assume that they’re probably Hall of Fame-caliber. Then you add a first pick and a fourth pick who presumably could be Hall of Fame guys, or more likely probably Pro Bowl guys, you’ve now added four blue chip players to your roster. Now you’re totally transformed your team.”
Thomas has one year remaining on his current contract worth $11.25 million and should he ultimately return this season, he is also undecided beyond 2018 and whether or not he will continue to play once his deal expires.
“I’m not ready to say anything definitively because I would hate to be wrong,” Thomas said. “Because I’ve seen how a lot of other guys’ careers has ended. I grew up in Wisconsin a Brett Favre fan and I’ve seen how many times he was definitely not going to come play and then he played for the jets and the Vikings. So I don’t want to say anything definitively. I don’t know. It’s hard to say. But what I can say is this is my last year on my contract in Cleveland. I don’t want to play anywhere else. I guess I haven’t thought that far yet.”