The Patriots surprised everyone last year when they used the franchise tag on Joe Thuney. Often times, the tag is used as a bridge towards an extension. But, in this case, the two sides have yet to make real progress. The Patriots have never been close on a multi-year deal with the standout guard, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic.
Thuney is set to reach the open market in March and Howe anticipates that he’ll seek something in the range of $14MM per year. A five-year, $70MM deal would position him as the highest-paid left guard in the NFL, besting Andrew Norwell‘s $66.5MM contract. Following the tag, Thuney played on one-year, $14.78MM deal in 2020.
Ideally, the Patriots would like to keep Thuney, but the numbers crunch might not allow for it. And, historically, the Patriots have been willing to let key free agents walk when the price gets too rich. They have a solid track record for drafting interior linemen, so they could theoretically let Thuney leave, boost their compensatory draft pick calculation, and replace him with someone younger/cheaper.
Thuney, 29 in November, has started in all 80 of his games for the Pats over the last four seasons. In 2018 and 2019, he graded out as one of the five best offensive guards in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. He slipped ever so slightly this past season, placing him at No. 10.
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