Joe Thomas, for one, was stunned at the news that the Cleveland Browns had acquired wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., in a trade with the New York Giants.
The former Browns offensive tackle and current analyst for NFL Network simply didn’t think that such a bold decision would be made at either end of the deal that also allowed the Browns to land standout defensive end Olivier Vernon in exchange for for Jabrill Peppers, Kevin Zeitler and the Browns’ first- and third-round choices in the 2019 NFL Draft.
‘I didn’t know that the Giants would ever even consider getting rid of such an icon’
“I don’t know about you guys, but pretty unexpected,” Thomas told Bruce Murray and former Browns teammate Brady Quinn on the SiriusXM Blitz. “I definitely did not expect Odell Beckham to the Browns, for sure. I didn’t really think they were going to be making such huge moves, and I didn’t know that the Giants would ever even consider getting rid of such an icon. But, I’ll tell you what, a lot of Browns fans woke up pretty happy this morning.”
Now, one of the major questions facing the team is whether first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens, who finished last season as the Browns’ offensive coordinator after Todd Haley was fired, is ready to step up to the enormous challenge of dealing with greater optimism than has surrounded the club in a long time. The excitement also has been fueled by the free-agent signing of defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.
‘We’ve got to find whatever that why is that gets us up in the morning and makes us work harder than everybody else’
Thomas admits he doesn’t know Kitchens all that well. Thomas was able to see him while around the team’s facility last offseason as the ex-player rehabilitated a torn triceps. However, they didn’t discuss much beyond their mutual interest in fishing.
“But I think that’s his number one goal this offseason is going to be, ‘Alright, I’ve got to get the expectations under control. I’ve got to be able to manage the expectations. I’ve got to put on the Bill Belichick hoodie and start that New England mentality where, hey, we have to still have that underdog mentality. We’ve got to find whatever that why is that gets us up in the morning and makes work harder than everybody else,’” Thomas said.
‘On paper, they’ve got all this great talent; that doesn’t mean you don’t have to put in the work’
“They won the offseason just because they’re coming off a big turnaround last year. On paper, they’ve got all this great talent; that doesn’t mean you don’t have to put in the work because talent is not going to win in the NFL. Everyone’s got talent. You’ve got to put in that work in the offseason. So it’s going to be about putting the nose to the grindstone for Freddie this offseason.”
Murray said he was putting the over-under on the 2019 Browns at 10 1/2. Then he asked Thomas whether he was taking the over or the under.
‘I really think that they’ve got an outstanding team if Freddie’s able to keep all those guys together’
“I still like the over, I think that’s strong,” Thomas said. “They haven’t won 10 games since young Brady Quinn and Joe Thomas were sharing a room in Cleveland, Ohio. But I really think that they’ve got an outstanding team if Freddie’s able to keep all those guys together, rowing the boat in the same direction.”
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