The New England Patriots are expected to use their franchise tag on starting left guard Joe Thuney, according to Jim McBride of The Boston Globe.
This is quite a surprise. As a team that has already invested quite a bit of money into their offensive line, New England is still deciding to use a franchise tag on Thuney, who will now earn $14.7 million for the 2020 season. The last time the Patriots used the franchise tag was in 2015 on kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
Thuney was expected to be one of the most highly coveted offensive lineman in free agency, with a reported 20 teams interested in New England's fifth-year starter. Now, the Patriots prevent Thuney from hitting the market, and provide some consistency and high-level talent to their offense for the 2020 season. Their offensive line is projected to be as followed for next season: Isaiah Wynn, Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon.
The six-time Super Bowl champions have now locked up three veterans before free agency has begun. On Friday, they signed special teams standout and captain Matthew Slater to a two-year extension, and on Sunday they gave safety and captain Devin McCourty to a two-year extension.