Broncos appear to be among frontrunners for Nate Solder

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To this point in the offseason, the Cleveland Browns have yet to be informed whether or not Joe Thomas will return for a 12th season with the team. Solder has spent the first seven years of his National Football League career as a starter on the New England Patriots' offensive line.

Signing Nate Solder, the left tackle of the New England Patriots, in case Thomas does retire, has become a priority for the Browns during this so-called window of "legal tampering" before free agent players can be signed beginning at 4 p.m. March 14, according to sources.

The Boston Globe's Ben Volin added that the Browns are "making a big run" at Solder to replace Thomas. He made the Pro Bowl 10 straight times and played 10,363 consecutive snaps before a triceps injury suffered October 22 in a game against the Titans ended his incredible iron-man streak. But at least on Wednesday, the Browns will have a clearer vision of how they'll approach the rest of their offseason as they enter the new league year. They would love to keep Solder, who has been Tom Brady's blindside protector for a long time.

The market is aggressive this year also, and former Panther's guard Andrew Norwell just got paid. Along with the Patriots, the Texans and Broncos were reported to be the "head of the class" to sign the free agent left tackle on Monday. They can afford to give Solder top-of-the-market money at the tackle position.

The moves could potentially provide insight into how the Browns feel about which way Thomas is leaning.

"I've seen him putting (weight) back on now here recently, but he's Joe", Browns coach Hue Jackson told reporters at the Combine earlier this month.