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Browns pay ultimate compliment to Joe Thomas

Joe Thomas, Browns

Joe Thomas is one of the best players in Cleveland Browns history and will undoubtedly be enshrined in the Hall of Fame one day in the near future. For that reason, it makes sense why no one will be wearing Thomas’ No. 73 for Cleveland next season.

The Browns selected Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills with the 10th overall pick in the recent NFL Draft. Wills is the earliest the Browns have selected an offensive tackle since the team took Thomas No. 3 overall in 2007. And despite wearing No. 74 for the Crimson Tide,  there was talk that the rookie would don No. 73 during his rookie year.

Wills actually got permission from Thomas himself to wear the number but new Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski wasn’t having any of that.

“First of all, I think that’s very gracious of Joe to offer that number, but I just didn’t think that was the right thing to do for a bunch of different reasons, and I told Jed that,” Stefanski said on ESPN Radio, via Cleveland.com. “The good news is I get to assign these numbers. So I made sure that he knew what numbers were available.”

And while Thomas’ number is not yet retired by the franchise he spent his entire 11-year career with, it certainly will be in the future. Despite a lack of team success during his time in Cleveland, Thomas was one of, if not the best tackle in the NFL racking up six All-Pro First Team selections during his career.

Wills announced on Twitter Monday that he will be wearing No. 71.

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