Thuney was set to be a free agent last offseason before the Patriots placed the franchise tag on him prior to the start of the new league year. That kept him in New England for another season, but it looks like his return might have only been temporary.
With Thuney a free agent again this offseason, the Patriots have another decision to make. And based on recent rumors, it doesn’t appear as though a new deal is close to being reached.
Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that Thuney and the Patriots have “never been close to an agreement” on a new contract and that it certainly seems as though the star guard will hit the open market.
In theory, the Patriots could place the franchise tag on him again, but the ensuing cap hit would likely be far greater than they are willing to pay. It’s long-term extension or bust — and it’s certainly trending towards bust.
The NY Jets could target Joe Thuney in free agency
The Jets could capitalize on the Patriots’ unwillingness to extend Thuney by making him one of their top targets this offseason. A year ago, before the Patriots tagged Thuney, the Jets were prepared to make a serious run at the former third-round pick.
It’ll cost a lot, but this is exactly the type of player that general manager Joe Douglas would be willing to break the bank for.
Thuney has never missed a single game in his five years in the NFL, having played 80 consecutive games. Accomplishing a feat like that is almost unheard of in today’s NFL.
It’s been made even more impressive given his stellar play over those five years. Pro Football Focus has ranked Thuney in the top-12 of all guards in every year since 2017 with him twice being ranked in the top-six.
Thuney is, by all accounts, one of the best guards in the league. He’s durable, consistent, and a highly-regarded locker room leader. In essence, the perfect Joe Douglas free-agent target.
The Jets will be looking to upgrade the interior of their offensive line this offseason and Thuney could instantly slot in for Alex Lewis at left guard. Cutting Lewis would cost the Jets under $2 million in dead cap making the move very reasonable.
Joe Thuney’s days in New England might be numbered. And he could just find a new home in East Rutherford playing for his longtime rivals.