No one would blame John Elway for being slightly gun shy at the trade deadline after the move he made last year was, for all intents and purposes, an on-field bust. Sure, you can say Vernon Davis was a solid veteran presence in the locker room during a tumultuous final two months of the 2015 regular season. But on the field he was non-existent, if not a liability. Still, that shouldn’t keep Elway from making a move this season that suddenly seems too obvious not to make.

On Sunday night Pro Football Talk reported that the Cleveland Browns are now asking for a second-round pick for left tackle Joe Thomas.

It’s a move that makes so much sense for the Denver Broncos that a team like the Patriots might want to trade for Thomas just to keep him away from Denver, one of the few teams that could threaten them down the stretch.

The move is so obvious, in fact, Mike Florio’s lede in this year‘s Thomas trade update article is about how the Broncos nearly made a move for the six-time, first-team All-Pro left tackle last year.

The Denver Broncos need help on the offensive line in a big way. Yes, Elway shored up the edges with the signing of Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson in the offseason, but Okung has always had an injury history (and was on concussion protocol this week) while Stephenson has already missed three games this year. Stephenson, even in limited action, is rated the worst Broncos starter, according to Pro Football Focus. Through six games Okung and Stephenson have not made the sea change difference Elway expected.

Meanwhile, Michael Schofield and Ty Sambrailo’s struggles from 2015 have not changed. Both continue to be liabilities no matter where they are on the line and when paired together they create a vacuum on the right side that has nullified both C.J. Anderson and the passing game.

The Broncos are already 0-1 in the AFC West and play three division games in four weeks following their Monday night tilt with Houston. With all three AFC West opponents winning in Week 7, Denver is suddenly in must-win territory on those division games. Drop any two of those three games and the AFC West crown will quite likely be going somewhere else for the first time since 2011. That means Elway needs to make this move soon, even if it means paying a bit of a premium to land Thomas before the Nov. 15 deadline.

Elway is clearly willing to make moves to try and fix the line, having released backup o-lineman Darrion Weems last week to make room for Billy Turner. And while Thomas is a left tackle in the truest sense, which would create a logjam with he and Okung on that side, it’s worth the shuffling to acquire a player who was earlier this year called “the greatest NFL player to never make the playoffs.”

Considering Elway’s lack of success at drafting linemen in the early rounds (Schofield was a third-round pick in 2014, Sambrailo a second-rounder in 2015), Denver has little to lose in giving up a second-round pick on Thomas – who would remain under contract for two more years but carries no dead cap money after 2016.

The 49ers are asking for a first-round pick for Joe Staley – who comes with a minimum $6.6 million dead cap hit over the next three years, according to Spotrac – making Thomas an absolute steal for any contender who needs to shore up their line.

PFT says the Vikings and Patriots are both possible landing spots for Thomas and that a deal with those teams might not come until the Nov. 15 deadline so the Browns can continue to pay Thomas until then.

The Vikings (at $865K) don’t really have the salary cap space, but the Patriots ($11.17M) are actually sitting in better shape than Denver ($9.03) at the present moment. Still, both Denver and New England have more than enough room to make a move.

Last year Bill Belichick signed Montee Ball (also a failed Elway second-round pick) to their practice squad on Dec. 15, just a few weeks after losing to the Broncos in Denver and just ahead of what seemed like a surefire playoff meeting between the two teams. It was clearly an “intel” move as much as a “personnel” move. Don’t put it past the Pats to play keep away with Thomas.

Obviously a move for Thomas would be much, much larger than putting a running back on the practice squad. But that doesn’t mean Elway doesn’t need to act fast. The price tag for Thomas just dropped and now looks like a major bargain compared to Staley. The quickest cure to what’s ailing the Broncos would be an All-Pro on the offensive line. Elway saw this firsthand last year with the addition of Evan Mathis late in training camp.

Elway needs to remember the success of that move, not the failed Vernon Davis trade, and get a deal done with Cleveland ASAP.