Patriots surprisingly interested in bringing Joe Thuney back

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 20: Joe Thuney #62 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 20: Joe Thuney #62 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots might have had one of the strongest offensive lines in the league last year, but Bill Belichick has already tried to switch it up just a bit.

In two moves, he shifted the balance of power, trading right tackle Marcus Cannon to the Houston Texans after re-acquiring Trent Brown from the Las Vegas Raiders.

The expectation was that high-priced guard Joe Thuney would leave in free agency.

A former fourth-round pick out of North Carolina State, Thuney has exceeded all expectations, quickly becoming one of the best guards in the league due to his ability to run and pass block at an elite clip.

Thuney looked like a foregone conclusion to leave the Patriots, as the presence of Shaq Mason at right guard and the emergence of mammoth rookie Michael Onwenu on the other side could’ve given the Patriots an easy out, especially considering how in-demand Thuney is.

However, according to Albert Breer, New England has been kicking the tires on a potential Thuney reunion, as doing so would reinforce one of the Patriots’ positions of strength while also preventing rivals from scooping him up.

Joe Thuney become one of the best guards in football with the Patriots.

Pass protection is where Thuney really shines. He’s given up just three sacks over his last 1,733 pass-blocking snaps. He’s also been called for just three penalties in the last two years, all the while offering the versatility to play tackle and center.

The most logical place for Thuney to play on this line might be center considering David Andrews is also scheduled to hit the open market. If Belichick is still satisfied with Mason at right guard, Thuney might need to make the switch full-time if he wants to return to the Patriots.

The Patriots might have a hole on the interior offensive line as well as the cap space to bring Thuney back, but teams like the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals will make a run at him. New England, however, might be too good to pass up.

The Patriots need to run the ball and keep Cam Newton upright if they are to have any chance of making the postseason again. Thuney coming back to New England would give the Patriots a potential Pro Bowl player at all five offensive line positions. The rebuild on offense starts up front, and Thuney could be a huge part of that.