One of the more surprising moves for the New England Patriots last offseason was their decision to place the franchise tag on starting left guard, Joe Thuney. The choice to do such was odd, because tagging Thuney brought along a $14.78 million cap hit for a team that had very little cap space before they tagged him. That's why many have been wondering what the motive was to retain the 2019 second-team All-Pro guard.
Was Thuney too valuable to let him walk in free agency? Did New England believe tagging him would retain him at a bargain price for what they would be getting out of him for production?
Well, it apparently was neither of those things. Instead, it was reportedly because the team was trying to show good faith to their then-starting quarterback, Tom Brady. NFL Media's Mike Giardi explained the situation this week via Twitter.
While retaining their best offensive lineman was definitely an effort to convince their Hall-of-Fame quarterback to stick around, it obviously wasn't enough, which is why Brady ended up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
So, the six-time Super Bowl champions were stuck with an offensive lineman that was swallowing up a good chunk of their 2020 cap space. Don't get me wrong - Thuney is a phenomenal player and proved to be immensely valuable, playing multiple positions, and doing such at a high level, when the injury bug began to strike the offensive line this season. But keeping Thuney around for one more year didn't accomplish the main task, which was keeping Brady around.
So for that reason, it seemed like a bit of a waste to tag Thuney. That money could have been used more wisely last offseason, especially when watching rookie offensive lineman Michael Onwenu's first NFL season play out as well as it did.
This offseason, Thuney will likely find a new place to play football. Based on his play this season, the fifth-year guard is line to earn a massive contract, one that could potentially put him in the record books at 28 years old.