According to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, the Cleveland Browns are "making a big run" at the New England Patriots' Nate Solder in free agency. But the bigger news in Volin's report is that the Browns view Solder as a replacement for Joe Thomas at left tackle.
Thomas, of course, has yet to inform Cleveland of his plans for the future. The 10-time Pro Bowl selection has openly contemplated retirement after his 2017 season came to an end due to a torn triceps suffered in October.
"You've got to really make sure you spend time and come up with the right decision," Thomas told WKYC's Dave Chudowsky last week.
In addition to growing his popular ThomaHawk Show podcast, which he co-hosts alongside former Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, Thomas has reportedly auditioned for broadcasting roles with national media outlets this offseason -- something he didn't deny to WKYC last week. But while the 11th-year pro insists that he hasn't yet been offered another job, he admitted that the end of his football career is "coming sooner than later."
That's likely why the Browns have targeted Solder, despite having not yet been informed of Thomas' plans for the future. According to Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot, "sources say that the longer it goes, the more the Browns think he'll retire, which has them looking around for his replacement."
A 2011 first-round pick and starter for the Patriots ever since, Solder would qualify as that -- although he's hardly as decorated as the future Hall of Famer he'd be replacing in Cleveland. In his seven seasons as a pro, the Colorado product has yet to be selected to a single Pro Bowl, although he has helped anchor the offensive line of two Super Bowl-winning teams.
According to Volin, the Browns -- armed with more than $82 million in cap space -- will present "stiff competition" to the Patriots in their quest to re-sign Solder. Meanwhile, Cleveland's attempt to acquire him could vanish -- or pick up steam -- at any moment, should Thomas soon arrive at his decision.