Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry has a lot on his plate with free agency set to open on March 17.
Berry has reportedly made at least one decision, however, as the Browns are not planning to tender restricted free agent Tavierre Thomas, a key contributor on special teams, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero:
With the salary cap set to drop, the #Browns don't plan to tender CB and special teams ace Tavierre Thomas, source said. Thomas would've been a restricted free agent. Instead, he'll hit the market. Look for similar moves elsewhere.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 5, 2021
Thomas is one of three restricted free agents on the Browns, joining wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge and linebacker Tae Davis, that can be offered a tender. In Thomas’ case, that would have provided the Browns the opportunity to match any offer sheet that Thomas would receive from another team.
But with the salary cap declining this season due to the impact that COVID-19 had on revenues, Berry has apparently decided to let Thomas simply hit the market. That does not mean the Browns can’t re-sign Thomas, but they no longer would have the opportunity to retain him by automatically matching another team’s contract offer.
If the Browns had offered a right-of-first-refusal tender to Thomas, they would have been on the hook for a one-year contract worth a little more than $2.3 million if Thomas did not sign with another team, according to Over the Cap.
This past season, Thomas played in all 16 games and made three starts at cornerback, finishing with 20 tackles. His best contributions came on special teams, however, where he had 10 tackles and became one of the unit’s most consistent players.
It was a role he embraced, as Thomas told clevelandbrowns.com in October:
“You’ve got to have that want-to when you play on special teams. All special teams is is going harder than the person you’re going against. You’ve got to want to outwork the guy in front of you. If you have that want-to and drive to do that, then nine times out of 10 you’re going to be successful.
“That’s what I’ve heard from all the guys who have been successful. It’s all about the want-to — wanting it more than your opponent.”
Thomas has put in the work to become a key contributor on special teams, so hopefully Berry can still work out a way to bring Thomas back for another season.