The Patriots are stuck between a rock and a hard place with OL Joe Thuney.
The deadline for players hit with the franchise tag to agree to long-term extensions with their respective franchises came and went this week.
When the dust settled, the Patriots and offensive lineman Joe Thuney had nothing to show for seemingly months of negotiating, meaning that he will play the 2020 season on a $14.78 million salary before becoming a free agent.
In truly alarming fashion, however, it appears that hardly any progress was made since he was tagged back in March. Per NFL insider Michael Girardi, there was never any real “momentum” toward a new deal for the former third-round pick.
New England is generally lauded for how it sidesteps predicaments like this, so the team absolutely deserves a similar dose of slander for creating this mess.
At the time, the Patriots’ decision to tag Thuney was met with mixed reviews as the organization didn’t have nearly enough salary cap flexibility to meet his demands. We aren’t saying that the former third-round pick was being impossible in discussions, either. He was merely a victim of the Patriots’ lack of preparedness and impulsive decision, if that makes sense.
If the rumors are true, they suggest that New England was forced into this impasse thanks to the New York Jets’ reported interest in signing Thuney as part of second-year general manager Joe Douglas’ plan to rebuild the offensive line.
This latest update makes it seem like the Patriots were never really incentivized to sign the 27-year-old stud to an extension, which makes sense considering their track record of refusing to pony up the big bucks for linemen. What isn’t defensible, however, is their decision to tag him in order to keep him in Foxborough for one more season.
New England now has plenty of time to determine whether it wants to extend Thuney after the 2020 season, but chances are that he signs with a team that values his potential and is willing to prove that with a lucrative contract. Whatever happens, the fact of the matter here is that this was an easily avoidable debacle.