The Chiefs have opened a significant chunk of cap space. The team restructured the contract of offensive lineman Joe Thuney, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter).
Specifically, the Chiefs converted $12.86MM of Thuney‘s base salary into a signing bonus. The move created $9.6MM in cap space.
Thuney spent the first five seasons of his NFL career with the Patriots, earning two Super Bowl rings and a second-team All-Pro nod.The former third-round pick ended up starting all 80 of his games during his time in New England.
The lineman inked a five-year, $80MM contract with the Chiefs last offseason, and he proceeded to see time in all 17 games for his new team, appearing in 99 percent of his team’s offensive snaps. Thuney also started all three of Kansas City’s playoff games.
According to a tweet from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Andy Reid informed reporters, after the Chiefs’ loss to the Bengals today, that tackle Lucas Niang suffered a torn patellar tendon. Worries were high for the second-year lineman when he needed to be carted off early in the first quarter. Unfortunately, this type of injury not only prevents Niang from returning this year, but, even after extensive rehabilitation, it could hamper Niang for years to come.
Niang was a third-round pick for the Chiefs two years ago, but was one of several players who opted out of the 2020-21 NFL season due to COVID-19 concerns. In what is effectively his rookie season, Niang has been a key player on the line, starting 8 games this season while dealing with some injuries and spending some time on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Kansas City was already short their other starting tackle, Orlando Brown, as he was scratched early this morning with a calf injury. The Chiefs pushed guard Joe Thuney to left tackle and relied on Andrew Wylie at right tackle. Wylie has been filling in for Niang this year and Kansas City will likely continue to depend on him into the playoffs. The loss of Brown is much more concerning for the immediate future and they will hope to get him back in time for a January run.
As for Niang, a speedy and efficient recovery is the best hope. Tears of the patellar tendon have a penchant for ruining careers. While players have been known to rehab and return, few have looked like their former selves after. Players like former Giants’ receiver Victor Cruz and former Buccaneers’ running back Cadillac Williams have returned to play only to look like shadows of their former selves. Longtime former Patriots’ linebacker Jerod Mayo retired shortly after his diagnosis.
Bears’ tight end Jimmy Graham is a rare example of a player who returned to play and continued being his dominant self. After Graham was traded to the Seahawks, he never quite reached the thousand-yards-receiving-coupled-with-double-digit-touchdown seasons of his days with the Saints, but, after tearing his right patellar tendon in his first season in Seattle, Graham returned to Pro Bowl play each of the next two years and set a Seahawks’ franchise record for single season touchdowns by a tight end with 10 in 2017.
We obviously hope for a best case scenario outcome like this as Niang deals with one of football’s biggest nemeses. Torn patellar tendons have ruined too many careers before they began. Our hopes go out to Lucas as he prepares to tackle a daunting injury and we wish him a long and healthy career.
Before Joe Thuney left for the Chiefs, the Patriots made a late push to keep him in New England, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. In addition, the Bengals and Chargers were also in on the standout guard.
The Patriots shocked everyone by tagging Thuney last year. This time around, they opted against cuffing him again at a 20% increase, but they still tried to keep him with a multi-year offer. Ultimately, the Chiefs won out – they were the first team to put an offer on the table for Thuney and it proved to be the most lucrative of the bunch. The longtime starter is now tied to Kansas City for five years at a whopping $80MM. The first two years are fully guaranteed at $32.5MM. Meanwhile, Year 3 goes from guaranteed-for-injury to 100% guaranteed in 2022, so $48MM of the deal is effectively locked in. Thuney didn’t come cheap, but he’ll help to fortify a line that has lost starting tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz.
In addition to those aforementioned teams, the Jets also tried to land Thuney. He’s long been a target of Gang Green – they were planning to make a big push for him last year, too, up until the Patriots kept him from the open market.
March 15th, 2021 at 3:15pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
One of the most high profile free agents is off the board, and the Chiefs have made a big splash. Kansas City is signing guard Joe Thuney to a five-year deal, his agent Mike McCartney announced on Twitter.
Details soon trickled in, with Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweeting that the five-year pact is worth a whopping $80MM. The first two years are fully guaranteed at $32.5MM, and while the third year is initially only guaranteed for injury it becomes fully guaranteed in year two, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. As such, he writes that $48MM of the deal is “practically guaranteed.”
At $16MM annually, Thuney is now the highest-paid guard in the league. Thuney was highly sought after, and we heard the Jets were preparing a push for the former Patriot. A third-round pick back in 2016, Thuney immediately became a starter in New England and has started all 80 possible games since entering the league.
That kind of durability must’ve been attractive to a Chiefs team that saw their O-line decimated by injuries last year. Thuney was a second-team All-Pro in 2019, and is one of the league’s best interior linemen. He has versatility, and started a couple of games at center for the Patriots in 2020.
Despite landing one of the big fishes on the market, Kansas City likely isn’t going to stop here with addressing Mahomes’ blockers. They’re also set to host the recently un-retired Kyle Long this week.
The Pats franchise tagged Thuney last offseason, but never got a long-term deal done. Minimal progress had been made right up until the point New England traded for Trent Brown, although Albert Breer of SI.com writes that “lines of communication” had recently reopened and that the Patriots had expressed interest in keeping Thuney.
Obviously nothing got done, and despite New England’s free-wheeling spending so far, Thuney got priced out of their range. It’s a big upgrade for the Chiefs.
The Jets missed out on Kevin Zeitler and they won’t have an opportunity to speak with Andrew Norwell. However, they have two other interior linemen on their list. The Jets are expected to pursue center Corey Linsley and guard Joe Thuney, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
The Jets were said to be keenly interested in Thuney last week with plans to call him bright and early on Monday morning. The Patriots declined to tag him again, making him an unfettered free agent. A second-team All-Pro in 2019 and a key part of the Patriots’ most recent Super Bowl wins, Thuney is regarded as one of the better guards in the NFL.
Linsley, meanwhile, was a First-Team All-Pro for his work with the Packers last season. It’s expected that he’ll approach or best Ryan Kelly‘s $12.4MM per-year average, so either player would be mighty costly for the Jets. Still, the offensive line is a long-standing need for Gang Green, so they’re willing to spend the big bucks.
March 14th, 2021 at 7:00pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
It sounds like the Jets could be preparing to make a big splash in free agency. When the negotiating period opens tomorrow, one of New York GM Joe Douglas’ “first calls” will be to Joe Thuney‘s reps, sources told Connor Hughes of The Athletic (Twitter link).
Thuney is one of the highlights of what has turned out to be a really solid free agent offensive line class. After franchise tagging him last season, the Patriots recently opted not to hit him with a second consecutive tag that would’ve paid him almost $18MM in 2021. Hughes writes that the Jets “love his versatility, reliability & the fact he’s spent entire career in winning culture.” As he also points out, they’ll face competition for his services.
Offensive line has been a weak spot for the Jets for years, and after drafting Mekhi Becton 11th overall last year, signing one of the priority free agents like Thuney would show Douglas is serious about solving the issue once and for all. A relatively unheralded third-round pick back in 2016, Thuney blossomed into one of the league’s best guards in New England.
He was a second-team All-Pro in 2019 and has been remarkably consistent and durable, starting all 80 possible games since getting drafted. The NC State product was a major part of the Patriots’ last two Super Bowl wins.
As Hughes alluded to, Thuney is quite versatile, as he filled in at center for a couple of games this past year and also played tackle in college. If he does opt to stay in the AFC East and sign with the Jets, who he’ll be blocking for will still very much be an open question.
After taking onTrent Brown, the Patriots have decided against using the franchise tag on Joe Thuney (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). As a second-time tag, the offensive lineman would have been in line for about $17.7MM.
The Patriots stunned everyone last year by tagging Thuney. Historically, the Patriots have been comfortable with allowing high-priced free agents to walk and the league, for some reason, puts guards and tackles in the same category for the franchise tag. Still, they were willing to give Thuney “tackle money” on a one-year, ~$14.8MM deal.
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. With Thuney out of the picture, the Patriots will likely use Trent Brown at left tackle while shifting Isaiah Wynn to left guard.
On the open market, Thuney will likely seek something in the range of $14MM per annum. A five-year, $70MM deal would position him as the highest-paid left guard in the NFL, topping Andrew Norwell‘s $66.5MM deal.
February 11th, 2021 at 11:38am CST by Zachary Links
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.
The Patriots aren’t expected to hammer out an extension with Joe Thuney before this afternoon’s deadline, according to Ian Rapoport and Michael Giardi of NFL.com (on Twitter). With that, the offensive guard is set to play on a one-year, $14.78MM deal.
The Patriots caught everyone off guard in March when they applied the franchise tag to Thuney. Even after that point, many believed that the tag was Step One towards a tag-and-trade. Instead, the Patriots tagged Thuney with the intention of keeping him and they had some talks with his camp about a multi-year arrangement.
Lately, there hasn’t been much momentum on that front. Frankly, it would be off-brand for the Patriots to pay top dollar for players as they approach free agency, and the current climate doesn’t help matters.
Thuney, 28 in November, has started in all 64 of his games for the Pats over the last three seasons. And, over the last two seasons, he’s graded out as one of the league’s five best offensive guards in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics.
July 15: At 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2020 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular season game.
With less than nine days remaining until the deadline, let’s take a look at where each of the 15 tagged players stand.