Joe Thomas chuckled when the notion of him asking for a trade this offseason was mentioned.
"Sometimes," the Cleveland Browns' perennial Pro Bowl left tackle said, "there's a little bit of a misconception about how much control players have over their own careers."
Translation: The Browns didn't have to trade Thomas, even if he had asked for it.
The point to keep in mind, though, is that Thomas did not ask to leave the Browns. His disillusionment toward the end of his 2015 season dissipated when he saw the Browns had hired Hue Jackson to be the coach.
"Since I got here it's been my goal to turn the Browns into a winner and I think Hue is just the guy to do that," Thomas said Wednesday after the team's practices.
Thomas has said similar things before. He's the eternal and unshakable optimist, standing behind every quarterback he has blocked for and every coach he has worked for. He even said after the 2015 finale that he thought Mike Pettine was one of the better coaches he had in Cleveland.
But that doesn't mean his words should be disregarded.
"I think by the time that I got a chance to meet Hue and talk with [team executive] Sashi [Brown] and kind of see the direction they want things headed and see the assistant coaches that were being hired, those were the things that said to me that I can really get excited about this," Thomas said.
He added that he was jealous of his peers in Cincinnati when Jackson was their offensive coordinator.
"It was a very offensive line-friendly offense," Thomas said. "A lot of quick throws. A lot of easy fade balls. A lot of different formations to spread the defense out. Confuse them, really get them into vanilla looks. A lot of up-tempo stuff. Smash-mouth football; he really wants to run the ball between the tackles.
"The thing that appeals on offense is we're going to make the defense guard every blade of grass on the whole field. Because we're going to be throwing it from sideline to sideline and we're going to be running it inside. We're going to be moving tackles, guards, different formations all over the field. I think that gives the offense a big advantage, and it makes life a lot easier on an offensive line."
Thomas admitted he did not enjoy seeing center Alex Mack and tackle Mitchell Schwartz leave as free agents, but shrugged it off as part of life in the NFL. He also said he recognized the team's overhaul that included the release of several veterans and a youth movement might have led the team to trade him on its own.
"It wouldn't have surprised me if I had been traded," Thomas said, "but I'm happy that I didn't. So it's kind of a happy ending."