The Browns are preparing to cover their bases at left tackle in the event 10-time Pro Bowl selection Joe Thomas retires, and the organization's strategy reportedly includes an expensive free-agent target.

The Boston Globe, citing a source, reported Tuesday the Browns are "making a big run" at New England Patriots left tackle Nate Solder. The Houston Chronicle reported Monday the Houston Texans are "making a serious run" at Solder and that the Denver Broncos are involved, too. Solder returning to the Patriots is another possibility.

Solder, who will turn 30 on April 12, will likely command an average annual salary in the $11-14 million range. He is widely viewed as the best free-agent left tackle in a market lacking many starting-caliber options. Solder has started 95 of the 98 games in which he has appeared since the Patriots drafted him in the first round (No. 17 overall) in 2011. He has won two Super Bowls with them.

The free-agency negotiating period opened at noon Monday. Contracts cannot be completed until 4 p.m. Wednesday, when free agency officially begins.

Thomas, 33, has repeatedly said he would tell the Browns his decision before the start of free agency. So far, he has yet to announce whether he intends to retire or play a 12th NFL season coming off the torn left triceps that ended his legendary consecutive snap streak at 10,363 on Oct. 22.

Last week, Thomas said he had been vacillating on his decision. Thomas has explained on The ThomaHawk Show podcast he co-hosts with former Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins that he's a fan of former Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor. So the Browns agreeing to trade for Taylor on Friday won't hurt the odds Thomas returns. Still, Thomas has stressed his decision will be based on his health, with the knee and back issues he's endured over the years concerning him more than his surgically repaired triceps tendon.

Either way, the Browns don't expect an announcement from Thomas on Tuesday.

Thomas is scheduled to make $13.5 million in salary and bonuses this year in the final season of his contract with the Browns. The future Hall of Famer has a $3 million roster bonus due Sunday.

Readying for life after his playing days, Thomas has auditioned for TV jobs with Fox and ESPN this offseason.