Don’t be surprised if the Patriots and Joe Thuney talk about an extension after the season ends.
When the New England Patriots slapped the franchise tag on Joe Thuney ahead of the 2020 season, many figured the two sides would agree to an extension because it’s not really Bill Belichick’s style to pay that much money to a player for one year, especially under the grave circumstances that featured a free agent exodus.
However, a new contract was not agreed upon before the July deadline and it was determined Thuney would play out the campaign under the tag. Many then assumed that it was a foregone conclusion he’d leave in free agency because of that, but according to the latest update, that may not be the case.
The Swiss Army Knife offensive lineman clearly didn’t sour on the Patriots due to the lack of an extension, it seems.
"“Similar to Gilmore, there was never anything close to materializing in a trade for left guard Joe Thuney. The Patriots preferred to extend his contract last offseason but weren’t close to a deal, so those discussions figure to recommence in the offseason,” writes Jeff Howe of The Athletic.“While it would be unorthodox for the Patriots to continue to tie up so much cap space on their two starting guards, including Shaq Mason, there’s another way to look at it. Left tackle Isaiah Wynn and projected right tackle Mike Onwenu are on rookie contracts and will tie up far less cap space for the premium positions on the offensive line.”"
The fact that Bill Belichick didn’t trade Thuney before the deadline says a lot. The Patriots could have saved $7.825 million if they did so and probably would have gotten a second- or third-round draft pick in return. When you also realize that the Pats might not get a compensatory pick if Thuney signs elsewhere, it’s evident they might be optimistic he’ll return since they can probably offer a nice deal with their plentiful cap space for 2021.
Thuney will only be entering his sixth NFL season in 2021 and the Patriots would be smart to pay him to help mentor a young offensive line that’s among the more impressive units in the NFL. On top of that, he’s an iron man, having yet to miss a game in his career, and has filled in at multiple spots as the team has endured departures, opt outs and injuries.
If there was ever a big investment to make for the Patriots (aside from Tom Brady), it’s this one.