The New York Giants are in the market for an offensive tackle this offseason and there is still talk they could trade for the Cleveland Browns Joe Thomas.The 32-year-old Thomas is a 10-time Pro Bowler who has been named a first team All-Pro seven times. He is arguably headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Thomas is still considered in his prime with several productive years in front of him.
The Browns are going through a complete rebuild from the bottom up, accumulating draft choices to add to their core of young stars. Thomas is obviously not in their long term plans. He currently has two years left on the seven-year, $80.5 million deal he signed back in 2011 and the Browns would reportedly part with him for the right price.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk believes the Browns are willing to move Thomas but wrote that they may not be willing to do it until midseason or even after next season:
“Per a source with knowledge of the situation, a trade is possible this year. However, real obstacles exist to getting a deal done.
The Vikings, for example, would be very interested in Thomas. However, with a first-round pick and more already shipped to the Eagles for quarterback Sam Bradford and little cap space remaining, it’s a long shot that he’d go to Minnesota. The Cardinals, Giants, and Seahawks have varying degrees of interest in Thomas as well; the challenge would be coming up with what the Browns want (the source says it’s a second-round pick) and the cap space.”
The Giants are suddenly back in business in the free agent market after DE Jason Pierre-Paul agreed to a four-year, $62 million deal this week, freeing up nearly $10 million in cap space. The Giants now have in the excess of $14 million to play with at the moment.
Thomas’ cap hits over the next two seasons are $11.5 million and $10 million respectively. Unless they look elsewhere for offensive line help and/or re-sign DT Johnathan Hankins to an expensive deal (which is becoming unlikely), they will have the cap space needed to accommodate Thomas.
The question remains whether or not the Giants are willing to part with the draft picks and then pay Thomas’ lofty salary on top of that. GM Jerry Reese covets his draft picks and is usually gun shy when it comes to forking them over.
But the Giants are in a “win now” mode. QB Eli Manning has two, maybe three productive years left. The club has to weigh whether or not to go for it now or play things where they lay. Right now, that would mean questionable play out of the tackle position for the near future.
The Giants could select one in the early rounds of the draft but there are no guarantees that player will be the solution. They seem to be hesitant to throw former first rounder Ereck Flowers out there again and the other linemen on the roster may not be any better.
A trade for Thomas would give Eli some peace of mind. It is only fair Reese give his struggling offense the shot in the arm he gave his depleted defense last year at this time.