The New England Patriots may have 99 problems in free agency, but 27-year-old guard Joe Thuney is no longer one of them. On Monday, the team used the franchise tag on Thuney to take him off the free-agent market and ensured he’ll be returning to the Patriots for the 2020 season.
Terms of the Franchise Tag on Thuney
The decision will guarantee Thuney $14.78 million for the upcoming season. Considering Thuney was expected to be one of, if not the No. 1 free-agent guard on the market, the Patriots didn’t want to risk losing him to another team once teams could begin to contact free agents on Wednesday.
“Joe has been a model teammate and an essential element to our success since joining our team in 2016,” the Patriots said in a statement. “Utilizing the franchise designation allows both sides more time to try to reach the goal of a long-term agreement.”
Thuney’s History with the Patriots
Thuney has been in the league for four years, and he’s spent all of them with the Patriots. He’s never missed a game or a start since entering the league as a 24-year-old in 2016 as a third-round pick out of N.C. State. The Patriots’ offensive line is beginning to look like it will be a strength of the team again next season.
Other Variables on the Patriots’ Offensive Line
The jury is still out on a potential re-signing of Ted Karras or the return of David Andrews at center, but with Thuney back in the fold and the expected debut of 2019 draft pick Yodny Cajuste, there is reason to be optimistic. Cajuste has the potential to blossom into a starting tackle in the NFL, and he’s played multiple positions on the line in college.
If Andrews can return to the field after battling blood clots that forced him to miss the entire 2019 season, the Pats will have some desirable cohesiveness on the line. Could that play a role in luring Tom Brady back to New England for a 21st season?
With all due respect to Andrews, probably not. However, Brady’s decision is still up in the air and we probably won’t know the answer to that question until the end of the week–at the earliest.
What’s Going to Happen With Brady?
Brady and the Patriots seem intent upon letting the future Hall-of-Famer test free agency, especially since the list of suitors seems to be dwindling by the minute.
As things are shaping up, don’t be surprised to see Brady back with the Patriots behind an offensive line that isn’t in as much transition as it was in 2019. In the end, Pats fans, the organization and Brady have to ask themselves, if that is the reality, is that such a bad thing?