After shedding between $40-50 million in salary cap space in recent days, the Kansas City Chiefs have seemingly been setting up for a bombshell move in free agency. On Monday afternoon, they got their man.
According to football super agent Mike McCartney, the Chiefs have agreed to a five-year deal with former New England Patriots offensive lineman Joe Thuney.
— Mike McCartney (@MikeMcCartney7) March 15, 2021
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Thuney Was ‘Patriots’ Best Offensive Player’ in 2020
The investment is undoubtedly a large one as Thuney is now the first-ever interior offensive lineman to secure $15 million annually, per CBS Sports salary cap expert Joel Corry. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero is also reporting that Thuney is guaranteed $32.5 million over his first two seasons in Kansas City on what is effectively a three-year investment for a club in desperate need of help up front.
New #Chiefs guard Joe Thuney’s five-year, $80 million contract includes $32.5M fully guaranteed at signing over the first two years, plus an injury guarantee that converts to full in 2022, per source. That brings the practical guarantee at signing to a whipping $48 million. 💰💰
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 15, 2021
Here was what Jeff Howe, Patriots beat reporter for The Athletic, had to say about the Chiefs’ new $80 million man.
“Losing Joe Thuney to the Chiefs is going to sting,” Howe wrote on Twitter. “Hell of a run for Thuney, though. He was the Patriots’ best offensive player last season. Versatile, professional, highly respected, performed every Sunday and won two Super Bowls.”
Just hours before the signing, Howe also tweeted that the Patriots were still in contact with Thuney and fellow Patriots free agent David Andrews, though there was “nothing set in stone.”
In 2020, Thuney earned the tenth-highest blocking grade among all qualified linemen (72.4) from Pro Football Focus, which ranked him as the 13th overall free agent available on the open market this offseason.
Joe Thuney pass-blocking stats since 2018:
🔹3 sacks allowed pic.twitter.com/Svr4GYFKc0
— PFF (@PFF) March 15, 2021
Joe Thuney allowed two sacks in 2020, one in 2019 and zero in 2018, per PFF numbers. He also went 16 games in 2019 without being flagged once.
— Sam McDowell (@SamMcDowell11) March 15, 2021
Thuney Likely to Slide in at Left Guard
Thuney, who turned 28 years old last November, has spent his entire five-year career in New England after Bill Belichick and company drafted the North Carolina State product in the third round (No. 78 overall) in 2016. The 6-foot-5, 308-pounder spent his first four seasons at left guard, also the most likely spot for him in Kansas City as last year’s starter Kelechi Osemele is set to hit the free agent market on Wednesday.
Unlike Osemele and a handful of other key starters in 2020, Thuney has been as dependable as they come in his early NFL days. To date, he has not missed a single game as a pro — with 80 career regular season starts to go along with 10 postseason starts, including three consecutive Super Bowls from 2016-18.
Minutes after news broke, quarterback Patrick Mahomes had already taken to Twitter to share his feelings on the matter.
— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) March 15, 2021
Thuney’s arrival should ultimately mark the end of the one-year Osemele experiment at left guard, as it’s unlikely the former All-Pro would accept a backup role with Laurent Duvernay-Tardif expected to return to his right guard spot in 2021.
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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!