Patriots reportedly got stuck with Joe Thuney thanks to Tom Brady
By Jerry Trotta
The Patriots reportedly kept Joe Thuney for another year to appease Tom Brady.
The New England Patriots face an incredibly difficult decision (well, one in a long string of ’em) when it comes to the future of right guard Joe Thuney, who cost $14.78 million in cap space this past campaign playing under the franchise tag.
As we know, de facto GM Bill Belichick has a tendency to avoid paying offensive linemen top dollar on the open market and that, more often than not, leads to the Patriots letting their own free agents, as talented as they might be, walk and be free to sign with other teams.
It seemed like they were heading down this route with Thuney last offseason, but that all changed when he signed the one-year franchise tag tender for 2020. Knowing that he would probably leave and pursue a lucrative deal elsewhere after this season, that move was widely viewed as a surprise within league circles.
Well, according to NFL insider Michael Giardi, many in the Patriots front office believe the team decided to tag Thuney as a sign of good faith for quarterback Tom Brady, who chose to sign a two-year, $50 million contract — the richest of his career based on annual salary — with the Buccaneers instead, ignoring their overtures.
As if watching Brady throw the second-most touchdowns of his career (40) and lead Tampa Bay to a first-round playoff victory hasn’t been enough torture for Patriots fans, they also have to reckon with the fact that Thuney was kept around for another year on a team that wasn’t even close to competing for the postseason because of him.
We regard Thuney as one of the most versatile and well-rounded linemen in the league, but it’s admittedly pretty sad to realize that the financially-constrained Patriots thought tagging him was going to convince Brady to sign a new contract. They obviously didn’t have much cap space to work with, but perhaps signing/trading for an elite wideout would’ve done the trick.
Prior to 2020, the Patriots’ offensive line had been their most reliable asset over the last couple of seasons, aside from the quarterback position. Taking that into account, it really makes no sense why they would think keeping Thuney for another year — with no real intent of inking him to an extension — would persuade the three-time MVP to stick around.
We’re not sure who was behind that thought process, but if this report is true, it certainly isn’t the best look. Nonetheless, it’s just so fitting that Brady’s free agency reportedly played a role in one of the Patriots’ most confounding roster moves in recent memory.