The Jacksonville Jaguars signed unrestricted free agent offensive tackle Tra Thomas to a contract this morning. Length and terms of the contract are undisclosed.
"Tra has been a part of a lot of winning in Philadelphia, he's been durable, he's a three-time Pro Bowl player, and he is a solid, experienced veteran and a good presence in the locker room," Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith said. "We have talked about character being important and this is in line with that philosophy. Tra is a mature, solid person who had a good career at Florida State before he entered the NFL. He's the right kind of guy, and we signed him to a contract that is a good, fair deal for us and for him. This is a good value and we feel a logical move for both of us.
"Tra has been healthy throughout his career and he is in good shape physically," Smith added. "Despite his age we feel he can still be very productive. We have an obvious need at that position and we feel that Tra can still be a starter. If another player emerges at that position Tra is a very experienced player who would give us valuable depth at both tackle positions."
Thomas, 6-7, 317, spent the past 11 seasons as a mainstay at left tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles after being selected with the 11th overall pick of the 1998 draft. Thomas has played in 166 games with 165 starts, the second-most games played by an Eagles lineman in franchise history and fourth overall. He is a three-time Pro Bowl selection (2001, 2002, 2004) and was selected as the starting left tackle on the Eagles 75th Anniversary team in a vote by the fans.
"This is a team that showed some interest in me. Also coming back home, I'm very excited about coming back and playing in my home area, in Florida," Thomas said. "I want to come in and just do whatever the team needs me to do. I just want to come in and prepare, and get myself prepared to start, and just do the best job that I can."
Thomas, a native of DeLand, Fla., has missed only eight games due to injuries in 11 seasons. He ranks tied for third among active NFL players with 17 postseason starts (Jon Runyan, 21; Brian Dawkins, 18) and has played in five NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl (Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville). He started 134 games alongside Runyan in Philadelphia, the most by a tackle tandem in franchise history.
"I have several years left in the tank. I take good care of myself; I'm always in the weight room training. Actually I'm going to find a house to stay in so I can get here and start with the offseason program as soon as possible," Thomas added.
In 2008, Thomas started all 16 games for the fifth time in 11 seasons and played in all 16 games for the sixth time. He also started all three postseason games for the Eagles. He was part of an offensive line in 2008 that allowed a sack once every 27.3 pass plays (23 sacks, 606 attempts), the best ratio in franchise history. The 23 sacks were the seventh-fewest in the NFL.
A two-year starter at Florida State, Thomas earned All-America honors as a senior and was selected as the ACC's top offensive lineman. He played offensive and defensive tackle at DeLand High School. His father, William "Crane" Thomas, was an offensive tackle at Florida A&M and attended Atlanta's training camp in 1974. Thomas, 34, is married to Rose Chanea and they have three sons.