After the Kansas City Chiefs released both Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, it was clear that a rebuild of the offensive line was in the works.
The rebuild began at the perfect place on Monday as the Chiefs signed former New England Patriots guard Joe Thuney to a five-year, $80 million contract, making him the highest-paid guard in the league.
Despite the size of the deal, the 28-year-old guard only holds a $4.5 million cap hit for 2021. His deal carries a $17 million signing bonus this season with two years and $32.5 million fully guaranteed (including the bonus).
Thuney's deal still gives the Chiefs room to work in free agency as they still have some holes to fill on the offensive line and elsewhere. While some are worried about the terms, it's just the price you pay for a top-five player at a position.
Thuney has had quite the career since joining the league in 2016 with the Patriots. Since his debut, Thuney has proven to be a valuable and available commodity, playing in 500 more snaps at left guard than any other player.
When it comes to pass-block win-rate, Thuney is near the top of the position group as well. Pass-block win-rate determines the rate at which linemen can sustain their blocks for 2.5 seconds or longer. Since the stat's inception in 2017, he ranks third amongst all guards.
It's no secret that quarterback Patrick Mahomes has shown distrust in his interior offensive line. His deep dropbacks are evidence enough. Grabbing a premier interior lineman will be crucial to the future of not only Mahomes's but the Chiefs' success.
While Kansas City still has glaring holes at left tackle and center, the veteran presence of Thuney will benefit both positions. His experience at left guard will make the jobs of — at worst — a rookie left tackle and center easier.
It's reported that the 6-foot-5, 308-pound guard has the ability to play all five positions on the line as well. The knowledge of each position will be crucial in his new leadership role if the team elects to go with rookie talent beside him. If another veteran presence is added, it will only help Thuney.
With money still available for 2021, the Chiefs could add another known commodity on the line to truly give the Kansas City front-five a new identity, but for the first acquisition in the rebuild process to be Thuney is the perfect start as the interior of the line gets some reinforcements.
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