Joe Thomas has officially announced his retirement, bringing to end one of the most consistent careers the NFL has ever seen. The third-overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft, Thomas spent all 11 of his NFL seasons at left tackle for the Cleveland Browns, excelling in one of the most underrated and yet heavily sought-after positions in football. As a top-five pick coming out of college, Thomas was already making more money than an offensive lineman usually expects to when he joins the pros; add 10 Pro-Bowl trips and at least one well-deserved contract, and you have one very big man with one very big mound of money. So just how much is the future Hall-of-Famer worth? Take a look below and find out:
Joe Thomas Net Worth As Of 2019: $52 Million
Thomas’s most recent contract was an interesting one, paying him $13.25 million per year, but with only $1.5 million dollars guaranteed. At the time of his retirement, Thomas was among the highest-paid players at his position, while his contract remained among the lowest in both total value and guaranteed money. Basically, the Browns were paying him a lot to lose every game last season, but not enough to keep him losing every game next season.
Early Life and College Career: 1984 – 2006
Thomas was born in Brookfield, Wisconsin on December 4, 1984, attending Brookfield Central High School and excelling both athletically and academically. Thomas played right tackle, defensive end, tight end, fullback, placekicker and punter for the Brookfield Central Lancasters, earning second-team All-American honors as an offensive guard and winning the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2002. Nebraska, Colorado, and Notre Dame were among the major football colleges competing for Thomas’ letter of intent, but in the end he stayed close to home, choosing the University of Wisconsin.
Thomas would play for the Wisconsin Badgers from 2003 — 2006, earning first-team All-American honors in his third season. Seen as a top-15 pick in that year’s draft, Thomas considered leaving Wisconsin after his junior year to pursue a career in the NFL. Then things got, in an unfortunate sort of way, kind of interesting. In the 2003 Capital One Bowl against Auburn, Thomas was tasked with switching back to his high school position of defensive end, following a number of injuries to the Badgers’ defense. While Wisconsin would go on to beat Auburn 24-10, Thomas would end tearing his ACL while playing defense.
Thomas would eventually return for his senior year as an offensive captain, eventually winning the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman, as well being named a consensus first-team All-American. Wisconsin would set a school mark with a 12-1 record.
NFL Career and Ironman Status: 2007 – Present
As the third-overall pick in the 2007 draft, Thomas signed a six-year contract worth $43 million, with $23 million guaranteed. He would play every snap of that rookie season, eventually finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting to Adrian Peterson, with Thomas and Peterson finishing as the only two players to receive votes.
In his first seven seasons, Thomas asserted himself as the best offensive lineman in football, becoming only the second Cleveland Browns player after Jim Brown to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven years. Thomas would go on to make 10 consecutive Pro Bowls to begin his career, the second most of any player to begin a career behind only Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen, who made 14 consecutive Pro Bowls at defensive tackle between 1962 — 1975.
While Thomas’s blocking ability is inarguably among the greatest of all time, he is perhaps best known for his unique durability and consistency. Left tackle is one of the most damaging positions in any sport on the planet, a role requiring immense size and skill just to remain on the field, a job where concussions are the protocol. Which is what makes Joe Thomas so special. From his first snap in the NFL in September of 2007 to his last ever snap on October 22, 2017, Thomas didn’t miss a single offensive play. For over consecutive 10 years, over 160 consecutive games, and over 10,000 snaps in a row, Joe Thomas was on the field. Surprise! No one else has ever done that.
Of course, this makes the end of Thomas’s career all the more bittersweet. His first NFL injury would be his last, as a tricep tear ended his 11th season prematurely. Following an offseason of speculation about the future of Thomas’s career, made even more interesting by a recent bevy of big trades by the Browns, he would eventually announce his retirement.
So basically, the Browns will never catch a break. Ever.
In partnership with USAA and the USO of Northern Ohio, Joe Thomas helped make a Super Bowl dream come true for Coast Guard CWO (ret) Jay McKenzi.