Browns, Broncos discuss Joe Thomas trade but no deal by deadline

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In the end, the Cleveland Browns were not going to part with eight-time Pro Bowl selection Joe Thomas without an offer that made it worthwhile to do so, and the Denver Broncos, Super Bowl aspirations or not, were not going to put themselves in a draft or salary cap bind to make the deal.

The two teams had discussions leading up to, and just before, Tuesday's trade deadline about the Browns left tackle, but neither team felt good enough about the offers on the table to close the deal.

Multiple sources confirmed Tuesday afternoon, just after the deadline had passed without a deal, that the Browns had asked for as much as two first-round picks from the Broncos at one point and that early Tuesday afternoon, Mountain time, the two sides were closing in on a package that included Thomas and a Browns fourth-round pick in exchange for the Broncos' first- and second-round picks in the 2016 draft but that the Browns also wanted to include the Broncos' 2016 third-round pick.

At that point no deal was made, and the 7-0 Broncos will continue to rotate Ryan Harris and Tyler Polumbus at left tackle while Thomas will continue to be one of the Browns' foundation players.

Thomas has never missed a game in his career -- 136 consecutive regular-season starts that span 8,443 consecutive snaps played -- and he has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of his eight previous seasons.

Thomas had also recently said he didn't want to be traded.

"I'm not a quitter,'' Thomas told reporters earlier this week. "I'm not a guy that gives up on my goals, and my goal from day one was to be part of the turnaround here and that hasn't changed.

"The reality of it is we're right now a 2-6 team and the trade deadline is coming up. If you're a team that doesn't have a winning record I imagine it happens all the time where teams will call up your team and find out if you're available for a trade. It's happened in the past with me in my career. But it's out of my control. I want to be here. I want to finish my career here.''

Browns general manager Ray Farmer said Tuesday the Browns had not shopped any player.

"We didn't actively try to go out and move anybody,'' Farmer said. "There's not a single team that I called and said, 'Hey I'm shopping so and so.' There was no shopping from my perspective. But I definitely listened. I think that's part of my job.''

Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway, who made a deal for San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis on Monday, outlined his willingness to make more deals after that trade as well as outlined his framework for walking away from a potential deal.

"I'm always open,'' Elway said Monday after he announced the trade for Davis. "We're always listening.

Elway also explained his parameters for closing a deal as well.

"I think that we're always trying to get better,'' Elway said. "If we have any opportunities to get better and we think that the compensation is fair, then we're going to do everything that we can to do that. I think that we're not going to mortgage the future to do it, but if we can add to our football team now and feel like it makes us better, we're going to look at all opportunities like that. I know that everyone looks at it as we're trying to win it now and we're all in for now. ... We're trying to win from now on.''

After the deal for Davis, Elway said the Broncos have six picks remaining in the 2016 draft, pending any compensatory picks the team gets for losses in free agency this past offseason ( Julius Thomas, Terrance Knighton, Rahim Moore and Orlando Franklin).

So, to deal three more 2016 picks would have left the Broncos with just three picks in the draft, something Elway has previously said he wanted to avoid, saying "you have to keep stacking those draft classes if you're going to remain good in the long haul.''

The Broncos would have had to make some salary cap adjustments to add Thomas and still keep enough cap space for players who will be moved to injured reserve over the remainder of the season as well as replacements they sign. With Ty Sambrailo headed to injured reserve, the Broncos will have $12.1 million worth of salary cap charges from players on injured reserve, including $10.6 million from Ryan Clady.

The Broncos had about $5 million worth of cap space after adding Davis, and the pro-rated cap charge for the rest of 2016 for Thomas would have been more than $5 million. To get Thomas on the roster and still have enough room to make future moves, the Broncos would have had to rework some current contracts or potentially release players.

Thomas also has three more years, beyond this season, remaining on his contract. He has salary cap figures of $9.5 million in 2016, $10 million in 2017 and $10 million in 2018. His acquisition likely would have affected Clady's future as well.

Clady, who has had three major surgeries in recent years, including this year's ACL repair, is scheduled to count $10.1 million against the salary cap in 2016 and $10.6 million in 2017.

But according to those with knowledge of the trade talks, the Broncos were confident they could work out the salary cap issues necessary to make a deal for Thomas if the terms could be worked out.

ESPN's' Pat McManamon, Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini contributed to this report.