Count Joe Thomas as the latest member of the Browns to applaud the re-signing of linebacker Jamie Collins.
"It's great having great players that want to be in Cleveland and wanted to be a part of this building process and building a champion," the veteran left tackle and 10-time Pro Bowler told Cleveland Browns Daily on Monday.
Collins, the Pro Bowler who joined the Browns via a midseason trade with New England, agreed to a four-year extension last month, making him the first of the team's potential free agents to ink a new deal.
Collins, who won a Super Bowl with the Patriots in 2014, is set to play a major role on a youth-laden defense that struggled last season.
"There's a lot of things we know he can do and we want to give him the opportunity to do that," head coach Hue Jackson told reporters at the Senior Bowl.
The transaction also helped the Browns made good on an earlier vow to be "appropriately aggressive" this offseason in an effort to add and retain talent.
"It's one of the things I thought that was important to our organization to get done," Jackson said. "He's one of our better players and it says we're in the right process of keeping our own players home, on our football team, guys that have been here and hopefully that sends the right message to everyone and that our organization is willing to do what it takes to keep our good players on our football team and not let them go someplace else. And hopefully that's just the start of it."
Thomas echoed that sentiment, saying the Collins extension is a step in that direction.
"I think it was awesome, I think that's the big thing that's been missing here for a while is re-signing your guys that are quality players and that was huge for us," he said.
"And now I think as we start to move forward in the next few years, we've got to identify the talent before they get to free agency and sign them so that you don't have to pay the market value. And it's a win-win; the player gets locked up before he's a free agent, takes some of that injury risk out and then the team gets a good player for a long time that they've drafted, that's been around, that knows the system, that maybe isn't fully at market value if you go to free agency."
Collins, 27, amassed 69 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in eight games with the Browns. He's poised to have an impactful 2017 under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who said he'll work to put Collins in position to make plays.
Thomas, a mainstay in Cleveland's locker room, is looking forward to what his teammate can do.
"I think he's a great guy because he's a good player but I think he'll also be a good role model for the other players because he's a smart player," Thomas said.
"He spent that time in New England, he knows how to go about his business and be a professional."