Patriots: Joe Thuney playing on franchise tag is worst move possible for Pats

Will Joe Thuney join Tom Brady on the road in 2020, away from the Patriots? (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Will Joe Thuney join Tom Brady on the road in 2020, away from the Patriots? (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Now the Patriots have an expensive offensive lineman for one year only? Gee, what a dream.

Throughout the past two decades of Patriots football, the team’s guiding principle (yes, even more so than “Do your job”) has been, “Do not pay in excess for replaceable parts.”

Under Dante Scarnecchia, the Pats made their offensive line almost as much of a plug-and-play as the running back position is for other teams. Players like Trent Brown and Nate Solder became stars in New England, but when the time came for their big-money deals, they cashed in elsewhere.

Unfortunately, 2020 is different. With a precarious cap situation and a new era of Patriots football beginning under center, Scarnecchia is gone, too. And though the Pats likely slapped the franchise tag on star OL Joe Thuney in hopes they could extend him cheaply or trade him, they’re now stuck paying him an exorbitant price for one year, knowing he’s gone in 2021.

It’s not what you want.

Though New England got some cap relief in the form of the resolution of Antonio Brown and Aaron Hernandez grievances, it’s only enough to account for in-season additions. All things considered, inserting a backup lineman in Thuney’s place after completing an asset-gathering and cap-clearing deal would be the best-case scenario. Paying Thuney elite skill player money to serve as a road-grader, while knowing there’s little shot at finding common ground long-term, is easily the worst.

And don’t forget the Patriots have an entirely different varietal of quarterback to block for in 2020, too. Thuney’s skills may not even translate to the need to pave a different pocket.

On the other hand…Thuney is very, very, very talented.

He seems like a shoo-in to create significant excitement as trade buzz builds, but things have been quiet enough over the past few months to get us to this point, so I guess we just don’t know anymore.

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Thuney would be a great Patriot if he played out 2020, but there’s almost a guarantee there’ll be nothing beyond it. That makes a trade near-essential at this point, and an expensive year a total buzzkill.