The New England Patriots dropped a major bombshell Monday when they elected to use their franchise tag on left guard Joe Thuney.
It seems unlikely that the Patriots would be willing to invest over $20 million in cap space to their two starting guards, Thuney and Shaq Mason, so New England could now be looking to trade Thuney. The Patriots have not yet indicated to Thuney that they will trade him, according to a source, but things move quickly in free agency.
The starting price for Thuney would be a third-round pick because of the compensatory draft pick formula. If the Patriots had let Thuney walk in free agency this offseason, then they could have received a 2021 third-round compensatory draft pick.
The Patriots also could flip Thuney for a veteran player. Rumors surfaced Monday morning that Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins could be on the trade market. The Patriots also could use veteran help at tight end.
If the Patriots do hold onto Thuney, then they should be close to out of salary cap space after also re-signing wide receiver Matthew Slater and safety Devin McCourty. The Patriots have yet to re-sign quarterback Tom Brady, who hits free agency March 18 at 4 p.m.
If the Patriots can tag Thuney then flip him for a draft pick, then it was a savvy move. If they wind up keeping Thuney, then the Patriots’ offseason plans are anyone’s guess.