BRIAN DULIK, Associated Press
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Joe Thomas has taken his share of lumps with the Cleveland Browns. He is willing to absorb many more.
The six-time All-Pro left tackle expressed his strong desire to remain with the team Wednesday rather than be traded to a contender.
“I do want to win a championship and I want to have it in Cleveland,” Thomas said. “I understand when you’re a good older player on a team that’s not winning, it’s natural to have your name out there.
“But when I first got here, my goal was to be part of turning the Browns into a consistent winner. We haven’t done that yet, so that means my mission is not complete.”
Thomas’ name has been floated around the NFL in advance of the Nov. 1 trade deadline. Browns coach Hue Jackson emphatically stated Thomas would not be dealt earlier in the week.
That decision, however, is in the hands of football operations director Sashi Brown and team owner Jimmy Haslam III. They have not spoken on the subject, but the team did negotiate with Denver to trade Thomas last October.
“It feels good to be loved, so I’m hoping they stick to (Hue’s) word on that,” said Thomas, who will turn 32 on Dec. 4. “I’ve had the experience of going through this before — my sense is that a trade was close last year — but I try not to worry about something I have no control over.
“Obviously, I really want to be here. It’s important for me to be part of the turnaround.”
The 6-foot-6, 312-pounder is one of eight players in NFL history to be selected for the Pro Bowl in his first nine seasons. The other seven are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Cleveland drafted Thomas with the third overall pick in 2007, which also was the last time it finished with a winning record. The Wisconsin product has played in all 151 games and for 9,388 offensive snaps, but has never qualified for the playoffs.
The Browns are 0-7 heading into their Sunday home game against the New York Jets, making them 47-104 since Thomas came aboard.
“I still want to be part of it and I really respect the coaching staff,” he said. “I think Jimmy got it right by hiring Hue and his staff, and I think Sashi and the guys upstairs are doing a great job. I think all the pieces are here, it’s just going to take a little bit of time.”
Thomas has personal and professional reasons for wanting to stay in Cleveland, where he and cornerback Joe Haden are the faces of the franchise. He is an investor in a suburban barbeque restaurant that will open soon, and is beloved by local fans.
Case in point: Thomas was shown on the scoreboard at Game 1 of the World Series between the Indians and Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. He also filmed a congratulatory message for the Cavaliers’ concurrent NBA championship ceremony, receiving loud cheers at both Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena.
“My wife (Annie) and I certainly feel like we’re Clevelanders,” Thomas said. “Just because you weren’t born somewhere doesn’t mean you don’t feel like part of the city. We feel like we’ve got some pretty deep roots here. There’s no reason we want to leave.”
NOTES: QB Josh McCown (fractured left collarbone) has been medically cleared to play against the Jets, while QB Cody Kessler (concussion) is in the NFL’s head-injury protocol after being hurt Sunday in Tennessee. Jackson declined to say who will start, citing the latter’s uncertain status. “Today is Wednesday, so tomorrow Cody could be out of the concussion protocol,” the coach said. “I’m not ruling him out. We’ll see as we go through the week.” . The Browns have used six quarterbacks through seven games. Robert Griffin III started Week 1 and fractured his left shoulder, McCown started Week 2 and was hurt, and Kessler has been under center for the last five games. Charlie Whitehurst, Kevin Hogan and wide receiver Terrelle Pryor also have played QB.
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