Posted by Ryan Wilson
We don't know if Titans running back Chris Johnson will point to this as more evidence he deserves to be the NFL's highest-paid player, but either way, the Browns have signed left tackle and 2007 first-round pick Joe Thomas to a seven-year, $84 million extension that reportedly includes $44 million in guarantees, a league source tells the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot.
Thomas has been one of the Browns' most consistent players since the team returned to Cleveland in 1999, and he is the cornerstone of an offense that finally appears to have a quarterback in Colt McCoy. (Yes, we're aware of similar conversations about Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn.) Thomas was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons, has started all 64 games in his four-year career, and has never missed a snap.
"Joe is obviously one of the finer left tackles in the business,'' coach Pat Shurmur said, according to Cabot. "He's a very, very good pass protector. I guess what's impressed me is that he's a fine run-blocker as well. Typically, you find a guy that's good at one and average at the others, but I think Joe is good in both phases, extremely good.
"He's big, has good feet, balance and body control. He has pretty good power for a guy that's a tackle. And he has a feel for the game. Usually what makes a player good is kind of a combination and he's blessed with a lot of those things.''
The Browns' offensive line has been the least of their worries in recent seasons. In addition to the revolving door at quarterback, the running and passing games fell somewhere between inconsistent and nonexistent. Trading for Peyton Hillis prior to the 2010 season immediately upgraded the rushing attack. And the emergence of tight end Evan Moore, and the addition of rookie Greg Little could give McCoy the downfield weapons he'll need to have any chance at success.
Ultimately, it all starts up front with the o-line, and Thomas has been a big part of that.
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