Joe Thuney officially will play on the franchise tag.
The New England Patriots left guard and the team did not come to a long-term agreement before the NFL’s 4 p.m. ET deadline Wednesday, thus meaning he will play out the one-year, fully guaranteed contract.
Thuney is set to earn $14.78 million during the 2020 season. He signed his franchise tender March 19 after the Patriots made the decision to apply the tag.
The two sides were “all quiet” Wednesday morning, according to NFL Media’s Mike Giardi, and the afternoon’s (lack-of) development seems to depict that.
Here’s what that means for the Patriots:
The 2019 second-team All-Pro will carry the team’s second-highest salary cap hit behind cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Two of the Patriots’ five highest-paid players are guards while three of the five are offensive linemen. Right guard Shaq Mason’s 2020 cap hit is fifth on the team ($8.7 million) while right tackle Marcus Cannon’s is fourth ($8.9 million). That’s a lot of money dedicated to the offensive line.
There is a financial-related positive for the Patriots, however, even if it’s not tied directly to Thuney. While Thuney’s cap hit did limit the Patriots throughout much of the offseason, compensation grievances with Antonio Brown and Aaron Hernandez settled recently provided some much-needed cap space. It means head coach Bill Belichick still has the ability to make other moves, and perhaps that came into play recently regarding Thuney’s potential extension.
The 27-year-old Thuney, who was selected by the Patriots in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, is a centerpiece for the offense. He’s been as consistent as they come, starting all 64 games in his career while playing 99 percent (or more) of snaps each season. He also provides the team with flexibility on the line, having the versatility to play two or even three positions (center, left guard, even tackle).
The Patriots stated in March their goal was to come to a long-term agreement with Thuney, but now the two sides will have to wait until after the 2020 season to negotiate a long-term deal.