The Cleveland Browns Organization has clearly stated that trading Joe Thomas isn't in their plans. Many have speculated that he could be moved since the team is really starting from scratch after losing Alex Mack, Mitchell Schwartz, Travis Benjamin and Tashaun Gipson.
Still others believe that the Cleveland Browns on the field can't lose 3 of their starting 5 offensive linemen, especially with Robert Griffin III's injury history. Drafting a QB high, even at #2, would also place a ton of value on having a good offensive line in front of RG3 and the rookie.
Trading Thomas for a 1st Round pick likely means the team spends that pick, or another high one, to replace him while downgrading from "HoF level play" to "hopefully good" level of play.
On the other hand, Thomas is 31 years old and will turn 32 near the end of the season. He probably has 3 good year ahead of him. He could be the exception to the rule but the Browns aren't likely to bet on it.
Rick wrote about why the Browns should trade Thomas as a nice gesture here (New Window).
Most rumors, really speculation, was that the Denver Broncos would make a move for Thomas since they reportedly almost dealt for him last year.
Today, the New York Jets have joined the short list of teams that could be desperate enough to move the required compensation for, perhaps, the best left tackle in the game over the last decade.
The Jets lost their long-time starting tackle to retirement. D'Brickashaw Ferguson has retired from the game, leaving a huge hole for the Jets. While the Browns have a known direction, total rebuild, the Jets are in a unique and difficult position.
They do not have their QB signed, Ryan Fitzpatrick is still a free agent, have a ton of veteran talent on both sides of the ball. They are in win now mode but a year or two away from needing to rebuild.
Fitzpatrick is still expected back but has been shown interest from the Broncos and has also hinted at retiring. Bryce Petty is their "QB of the Future" and Geno Smith was set to start last season before getting his jaw busted. Either of them could assume the starting role if Fitzpatrick goes elsewhere or retires. The Browns could also dangle Josh McCown, a player who reportedly interests a couple of teams including the Jets, to help answer the short-term hole.
Plugging the hole 'Brick left when he retired is a little more daunting, and could cause major issues even if the Jets bring back Fitzy. Ben Ijalana, Jesse Davis and Brent Qvale are 3 options to fill in but none should give the team a lot of hope. The Jets could look to fill the position with a high draft pick but that is a big risk.
That is where Thomas and the Browns come into play. Thomas is the only tackle available that could help the Jets in their win now mode. While he will cost the team assets, the Jets are in position to compete with an aging roster.
A trade for Thomas would start with the #20 pick or Muhammad Wilkerson. We wrote about Wilkerson here, before the news of Ferguson's retirement. The Jets have him Franchise Tagged but are open to possibly moving him. The Browns would have to come to some huge contract agreement with him, using some of Thomas' money, to make a deal work.
Neither Wilkerson (due to his contract) or the #20 pick would be enough for the Browns to move Thomas straight up. A 2017 conditional 3rd round pick might be enough to satisfy the Browns needs. Throwing in McCown for a 2016 4th or 5th round pick could help the Jets in multiple ways while giving the Browns even more ammunition.
Move Thomas after signing RG3 doesn't seem to be a great idea. Moving him before likely drafting a young QB also makes little sense. However, keeping Joe Thomas when the team is unlikely to even compete for a Playoff spot for the next 3 years also goes against simple analytics.
Will the Browns move Joe Thomas? Probably not.
If they do look to move him, the Jets, Broncos and others should all be placing calls.
How much would it take for the Jets to get the future Hall of Fame left tackle?