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Hue Jackson on LT Joe Thomas: 'We need him here and playing well'

Hue Jackson made it clear to reporters Tuesday he doesn't expect Joe Thomas to be anything but a Brown in 2016 and beyond.

Speaking from the NFL's annual owners meeting in Boca Raton, Florida, Jackson dismissed speculation that Cleveland might have plans to eventually trade the Pro Bowl left tackle.

"Where's he going?" Jackson said, laughing.

"Everyone wants to know if we're trading Joe — Joe's not going anywhere. That's the one of the quarterback's best friends, especially if he's right-handed. So I feel good about Joe and what Joe means to our organization and what he's done."

Thomas, who was taken third overall by the Browns in 2007, has played all nine seasons in Cleveland.

"He's one of the best left tackles in football. I don't think I'd be doing us a good service by making sure that he's gone," Jackson said. "We need him here and playing well."

After all, the Browns — who have spoken of the need to have a franchise quarterback — are in the thick of evaluating all potential options at the position, be it through the NFL Draft or free agency.

"My goal is to put a quarterback on this football team that our fans, that this city can be proud of and call their own because he'll be a guy that plays well week in and week out," Jackson said earlier this month in an interview with ESPN 850 WKNR.

And Thomas, who has been selected to the Pro Bowl nine times in nine years, will play a critical role in protecting whomever the Browns tap to be what Jackson has called the "face of the organization."

"We have the best left tackle in football," Jackson said, "so I feel great. I feel great."

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