Browns' Joe Thomas still undecided on playing future

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BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Joe Thomas has a major decision to make this offseason.

Until then, he's made up his mind about Cleveland's coach.

His 11th NFL season — and an historic playing streak — ended by an injury in October, Thomas plans to wait until after the season before deciding to continue a Pro Bowl career that will one day take him to the Hall of Fame.

Thomas suffered a torn triceps on Oct. 22 against Tennessee and underwent season-ending surgery.

"I'm going to sit down with my family and kind of discuss where I am about continuing to play," he said Thursday as the Browns (0-15) prepared for their season finale in Pittsburgh.

"I think it will come down to really, first and foremost, my health. Do I feel like I'm still playing at an elite level and do I still love it? For me, I feel like when I make that decision, which will be after the season, that is really what it is going to come down to."

The 33-year-old Thomas said coach Hue Jackson's future will have no bearing on his future. Thomas has been in Jackson's corner for some time, and although the Browns are on the verge of a 0-16 season, he hasn't changed his mind.

Jackson is 1-30 in two seasons with Cleveland, but owner Jimmy Haslam intends to bring the coach back for a third year. Thomas believes that's the right move.

"I am excited for it," he said. "I think Hue really has not been given the opportunity yet to prove what kind of coach he is. From a wins and losses standpoint obviously, the plan for a few years here was to try to attain the highest draft picks possible which is what we have successfully done.

"Unfortunately, as that is going on, the coaches have a hard time winning any games because of the depth that they are given to play with.

"I think what we have seen in this building from Hue is a man who is an excellent leader, a great teacher, a great coach.

"I think he is really excited for us to begin a new era where we are spending money in free agency and using our draft picks to select high players, not saving any assets or money for the future.

"We are going to basically start going all-in like the other 31 NFL teams do every year and give the coaches an opportunity to improve on the win-loss record they have had so far."

Before he got hurt, Thomas had played every snap of his career, reaching 10,363 consecutive plays — believed to be a record. While he has rehabbed his injury, Thomas has also served as a player/coach for Jackson, who hopes the 10-time Pro Bowler returns.

"I hope Joe does (return)," Jackson said. "Joe hasn't made that decision, I don't think, yet but I hope he does. This football team needs him. He is a leader of this whole group so we would love to have him back, but again, in his own time, he will make that choice and decision and we will be there awaiting that word."


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