This week, Pro Football Focus did a series on both the AFC and the NFC in which they looked at the longest-tenured player on each team in the NFL. Even the most flippant Browns fan should instantly know that for the Cleveland Browns, that designation belongs to left tackle Joe Thomas (2007), with the next closest being cornerback Joe Haden (2010). Fun fact: Did you know that the fourth-most tenured player on the team is inside linebacker Tank Carder?
Besides just highlighting his accomplishment, PFF is always good for cherry-picking a unique statistic. For that, they went all the way back to Thomas’ rookie season, a time when the analytical site had just launched.
A sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer, Thomas has been the best player on Cleveland’s roster each of the past 10 seasons. Perhaps the most remarkable stat of his career is the fact he did not give up a sack in 606 pass-blocking snaps as a rookie in 2007, also yielding just four QB hits. Since 2006, Ryan Clady’s 2008 campaign with Denver is the only other time a rookie offensive tackle logged at least 400 pass-blocking reps without yielding a sack.
I looked at all 32 teams’ highest-tenured player and quantified them into three categories:
- Longest-tenured player before 2007: 11 teams
- Longest-tenured player in 2007: 6 teams
- Longest-tenured player after 2007: 15 teams
The team with the least-tenured player is the Oakland Raiders (OT Austin Howard in 2014). That is damn-near incredible to think about, because in just three seasons (2016), they were well on their way to being a No. 1 seed and dangerous postseason contender before a crushing injury to starting QB Derek Carr.