NFL Trade Rumors: New England Patriots Among Several Potential Suitors For Cleveland Browns OL Joe Thomas

NFL trade rumors are once again circulating the Cleveland Browns big offensive tackle Joe Thomas.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that the Browns are looking to trade Thomas though there are real obstacles. This is not the first time that the nine-time Pro Bowler has been rumored to be on the trade block. The 31-year-old was thought to be headed to the Denver Broncos last season. There was also talk about at trade earlier this year.

Thomas was named the top NFL offensive linemen by Pro Football Focus last season and is the only offensive lineman ever to be selected to the Pro Bowl in his first nine seasons. The soon-to-be 32-year-old is due $10 million in 2017 and 2018, though none of that money is guaranteed.

Cleveland fell to 0-7 on the season with its 31-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday afternoon. The Browns have struggled all season and are reportedly focusing on their future as they have recently dealt several veterans.

Cleveland is believed to be looking for a second round pick in next year’s draft in exchange for Thomas. The six-foot-six, 312-pounder is expected to remain with the team until at least after their Week 8 game against the New York Jets. And it may be difficult for the Browns to deal the six-time All-Pro selection during the season, so they may have to wait until after the season is over. Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap pointed out that teams would need around $4.9MM in 2016 cap space to trade for Thomas.

If Cleveland does not end up making a deal, it will not because there weren’t sufficient suitors as Florio stated in his report that the New England Patriots, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings had expressed interest. The Patriots and Vikings may be the ideal landing spots for Thomas as both teams are in need of help on the o-line, and currently possess the top record in their respective conferences.

New England may be the likest destination for Thomas as the Pats have the necessary cap space to absorb Thomas’ contract, and the two franchises made a deal earlier this year, involving inside linebacker Barkevious Mingo.

The Patriots improved to 6-1 on the season with their 27-16 victory over Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7, but one of their weaknesses is the offensive line as they are currently ranked No. 24 by the NFL. Starting offensive tackle Sebastin Vollmer is expected to miss the entire season due to nagging knee issues. In the meantime, current starting right tackle Marcus Coleman has struggled so far.

Minnesota’s offensive line has been criticized all season. The Vikings (5-1) are the worst running team in the NFL. They also have allowed 14 sacks and permitted their quarterbacks to get hit 51 times (10th most). In their 21-10 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday, quarterback Sam Bradford got hit 16 times and sacked six times.

Minnesota will be without both of its starting tackles for the remainder of the season as Matt Kalil and Andre Smith are both currently on injured reserve. The problem with a potential trade is that the Vikings traded away next year’s first-round selection to the Eagles in the Sam Bradford deal, and they recently signed veteran tackle Jake Long.

Arizona (3-3-1) is on the cusp of falling out of the playoff hunt as its two-game winning streak came to an end with a 6-6 draw against the Seattle Seahawks. The Cardinals have one of the best defenses in the NFL while their offense is just average. One of the reasons, the Cards’ offense has struggled is their offensive line’s failure to protect quarterback Carson Palmer. Palmer and backup Drew Stanton have been sacked a combined 17 times (tied for seventh most in the league) and has been hit on 48 occasions (fourth most).

Seattle (4-1-1) has a Super Bowl type defense though their offense has a lot to prove. The Seahawks are one of the worst running teams in the league, averaging a paltry 3.1 yards per carry, and they have not done a great job protecting Russell Wilson. To make matters worse left tackle Bradley Sowell did not return after leaving the game with an injury. Rookie George Fant replaced Sowell in the lineup.

“He sprained his knee,” Hawks coach Pete Carroll said regarding Sowell in his postgame press conference. “He’s got an MCL sprain. I don’t know how serious it is, but he’s hobbling a little bit right now.”

The Giants (4-3) have gotten back in the playoff hunt after winning two in a row. New York kept quarterback Eli Manning clean in its 17-10 win in London over the Los Angeles Rams. However, the Giants are not very good at run blocking with one of the reasons being the poor play of starting left tackle Erick Flowers. So, there is definitely a need.

[Featured Image by Ron Schwane/AP Photo]