Cleveland Browns mainstay Joe Thomas has announced his retirement after an 11-year NFL career that will almost certainly earn him a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Thomas, a 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle, played in every snap for the Browns from when he was drafted in 2007 until he suffered a triceps injury in October 2017.
That amounted to 10,363 snaps, a record the team plans to enshrine in its 2018 Ring of Honor.
"This was an extremely difficult decision, but the right one for me and my family," Thomas said. "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.”
Though his career was marked by his excellence and endurance, he also was part of an era of unrivalled quarterback ineptitude. In his career, he protected a seemingly endless parade of starting QBs.
His decision to retire comes as a disappointment for Hue Jackson, who was hoping he would return for a 12th season.
"Joe means so much to me both personally and professionally," Jackson said. "Joe has been not just a tremendous Cleveland Brown, but one of the best to ever play in the National Football League. I appreciate everything he has done for this organization and not just on the field, his leadership and what he brought to the locker room, as a coach you couldn't ask for a better captain than Joe Thomas.
"He earned the respect of teammates and peers around the league for the way he worked. To play 10,363 consecutive snaps, what a tremendous accomplishment. I don't know if something like that will ever be matched again."
By retiring, Thomas will be forgoing a $3million bonus, which was offered to him by the Browns to lure him back after the season-ending triceps injury. It would have made him the second-highest paid tackle in the league ($13.5 million for 2018) behind Nate Solder, who just agreed with the Giants on a $15.5 million per year deal.
The Browns prepared for Thomas' departure, signing free agent tackles Donald Stephenson and Chris Hubbard during the offseason.
|Curry says he was ´obviously joking´ about moon landing comments|
|Bologna´s winning start ended in BCL|
|Las Vegas to host 2020 NFL Draft|
|Jackson to remain Ravens´ starting QB despite Flacco return|
|Rams headline 2019 NFL International Series home teams|
|Rams headline International Series home teams for 2019|
|Clippers buckled under Raptors pressure - Rivers|
|Rockets make change, pick up win over Trail Blazers|
|Raptors star Leonard out against Clippers, may miss matchup with Warriors|
|Butler opens up about heated Timberwolves practice|
|Tenerife back to winning ways, AEK beat Hapoel|
|Butler´s groin strain ´nothing significant´ – 76ers coach Brown|
|Blue Jays release five-time All-Star Tulowitzki|
|Vikings fire OC DeFilippo after loss to Seahawks|
|We rallied around it - Durant on Green confrontation aftermath|
|He´s good at basketball – Kerr running out of superlatives for Curry|
|Green thrilled to make Warriors return in victory over Timberwolves|
|Fournette subjected to alleged racial abuse in Titans loss - Marrone|
|It´s the end of one of the best movies you could ever see - James pays tribute to retiring Wade|
|NASA invites Curry to see moon rocks|
|LeBron trumps Wade in last dance, Curry scores 38 points|
|Seahawks secure dominant win over Vikings|
|Drake makes plea for ball thrown into stands after Miami miracle|
|Yankees interested in Machado, not Harper - Cashman|
|Warriors´ Curry believes moon landing was faked|
|76ers star Butler suffers strained groin|
|Brady: Patriots still have a lot of football to play|
|´No one died´ - Belichick´s message to Patriots after stunning loss|
|We have a plan - Ravens coach Harbaugh prepared for Flacco return|
|Oakland Raiders fire general manager McKenzie|
|Warriors assign Cousins to G League team|
|Denver Nuggets add free agent Young|
|Gronkowski on Miami Miracle: ´Got to make that tackle´|
|McVay ´sick´ over offensive failings as Rams coach takes blame for loss|
|Kenyan Drake on Miami Miracle: I couldn´t let Gronk tackle me!|
|Bears shut down Goff, Rams|
|Saints clinch back-to-back NFC South titles, Bears trump Rams|
|Bucks improve to 2-0 against Raptors with win in Toronto|
|Cowboys top Eagles in OT behind stellar Cooper display|
|WATCH: Steelers´ chance at game-tying field goal slips away|
|Cardinals´ Fitzgerald makes NFL history with most receptions for one team|
|Packers QB Rodgers sets NFL record for most passes without an interception|
|Warriors´ Green to return against Timberwolves|
|I feel for him… we´ll make it work – Butler responds to Embiid´s frustration|
|We´ll always be linked together forever - Wade reflects on playing with James before final match-up|
|Chiefs secure playoff berth, Saints win NFC South|
|WATCH: Chiefs QB Mahomes throws no-look pass|
|Dolphins defeat Patriots on miraculous final play|
|Brady sets NFL record for most career TD passes|
|Porter backs Brees for MVP, Saints for Super Bowl|
|Wall ´shouldn´t have played´ against Cavaliers after scoring just one point|
|LeBron explains why he gave a Grizzlies employee his game-worn shoes|
|The Sunday Seven - 7 Key Opta facts for NFL Week 14|
|Bulls coach Boylen: Hooked starters ´embarrassing´ in record loss|
|LeBron: Final Wade matchup will be bittersweet|
|LeBron flirts with triple-double as Lakers down Grizzlies|
|Mavericks rookie Doncic leads impressive fourth-quarter surge to beat Rockets|
|Injured Odell Beckham Jr. to miss Redskins match|
|McCarthy takes out full-page ad to thank Packers|
|Thompson, Kerr: Warriors were embarrassed after first Bucks game|
|Lakers ´gave in a little bit´ in San Antonio, admits Walton|
|Butler scores 38 points in Sixers win, LeBron double-double not enough|
|Struggles due to new offense with Butler – 76ers´ Embiid|
|Bucks deal for Hill in five-player trade as Dellavedova returns to Cavs|
|Bears QB Trubisky expected to face Rams|
|Cousins believes Vikings have more potential ahead of Seattle trip|
|Rookie? Spurs shave 15 seasons off LeBron´s career|
|I´m not having fun – Gordon bemoans Rockets´ woes|
|Former MLB players Valbuena, Castillo killed in car crash|
|Embiid to miss Pistons game for rest, coach Brown says|