Patriots: Joe Thuney sitting on Gillette field after Week 17 is depressing

Patriots fans will be gutted after seeing this picture of Joe Thuney sitting at midfield after the 2020 season finale.

To their credit, the New England Patriots went out and played with pride on Sunday, defeating the New York Jets by two touchdowns in the season finale after a shaky first-half performance.

It marked the end of their worst campaign (based on record) in two decades, and you can count on the front office making seismic changes to the roster in the offseason to ensure that doesn’t come close to happening again. In the coming weeks we’ll start to get a better understanding of which players on expiring contracts will remain with the organization and who will be testing the free agent market.

Offensive lineman Joe Thuney, who was playing on the franchise tag in 2020, is not guaranteed to be back with the Patriots next season. Before departing Gillette Stadium on Sunday, he was spotted soaking it all in at midfield, and fans will be gutted looking at the picture.

Heartbreaking.

Thuney was selected by the Patriots in the third round of the 2016 Draft and has proven to be an absolute steal. He started 80 of a possible 80 games since then while playing an incredible 99.2% of the offensive snaps, which included three seasons logging a 100% snap share.

The 28-year-old stud was drafted as a guard, but played pretty much wherever the Patriots needed him to when other members of the unit went down with injuries. That’s what made their decision to franchise tag him — and not sign him to a long-term extension — so maddening: no matter where he played, he dominated.

The Patriots have established a polarizing reputation of not throwing the bank at offensive linemen, and we were really hoping that Thuney would break that trend. It obviously isn’t set it stone that he won’t return next year, but if you paid any attention to how they approached his contract situation last offseason, you probably know what’s coming.

If Sunday did mark the end of the road for Thuney in a Patriots uniform, we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors. The fifth-year pro is going to get paid handsomely in free agency and fully deserves everything coming his way.