Veteran Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas had some interesting comments Wednesday regarding Cleveland’s decision not to re-sign Jabaal Sheard when the defensive end hit free agency after the 2014 season.
The New England Patriots were quick to scoop up Sheard, who went on to finish second on the team in sacks last season with eight to go along with four forced fumbles. His three sacks through four games this season lead all Patriots defenders.
It’s a pattern Thomas, whose Browns host the Patriots this Sunday, has seen play out far too many times.
“Certainly that’s one of the frustrations that I’ve had over the years (with the Browns),” Thomas told reporters, via ESPN.com. “That’s the problem when you’re constantly hitting the reset button. Guys that are really good players like that end up falling through the cracks or going to other teams, because any time a new staff comes in, basically they wipe out the middle class.
“They keep a couple of your ‘superstars,’ and then they want everyone else being a rookie so that they can try to develop them. When you keep doing that over and over again, you really lose all your middle class on your team.”
Thomas has racked up individual accolades during his nine-plus seasons with the Browns (nine straight Pro Bowls, six first-team All-Pro nods), but he’s never played in a playoff game and hasn’t won more than seven games in a season since his rookie year.
Cleveland has finished above .500 just twice since the franchise was rebooted in 1999 and has reached the postseason once, losing in the wild-card round in 2002.
“It’s always my job to do whatever I can to try to help my team win,” Thomas told reporters, “and I’ve always kind of been focused on doing my job to the best of my ability. Because that’s the best thing that I can do to help my team win. That’s kind of what you just have to focus on when you lose great players like that.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick has signed or traded for more than a dozen ex-Browns over the past few seasons, most notably Sheard, linebacker/defensive end Barkevious Mingo and running back Dion Lewis.
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