Patriots

Iron-man Joe Thuney explains how he's able to stay on the field consistently

Iron-man Joe Thuney explains how he's able to stay on the field consistently

Last season, left guard Joe Thuney was the only Patriots player to play 100 percent of the team's offensive snaps. He logged 1,119 reps in the regular season at left guard and continued to play every snap during the team's Super Bowl run.

Even more impressive is the fact that Thuney has played similarly high snap counts during the first two seasons of his career. He tied for first in snaps in 2016 with 1,114 and played 1,134 (good for second behind Shaq Mason) the following year. Clearly, Thuney is durable and does everything he can to stay on the field.

Recently, Thuney opened up about how he's able to stay healthy and log so many snaps in a league where availability is the most important ability.

"I think trying to maintain flexibility, stay on your nutrition, get your body right and just try to stay on top of it through the whole season, whether it be massages or just getting in the training room," Thuney said Thursday, per Andrew Callahan of MassLive.com. "Just trying to keep on top of things so nothing gets out of control."

Clearly, whatever Thuney is doing is working, so he should certainly stick to that regimen moving forward.

Thuney has proven to be a bright spot for the Patriots over the last few years. Because of his durability and his skills, he has established himself as a very solid starting guard and was a crucial part of the team's stellar offensive line play en route to a Super Bowl title. However, he is entering the final year of his rookie contract and will soon need a new deal.

If Thuney has it his way, he wouldn't mind staying in New England.

"I love it here. It’s great. The organization’s been awesome, teammates have been awesome," Thuney said, per Callahan. "So absolutely no complaints from me."

The Patriots already have a starting guard locked up in the aforementioned Mason, as they signed him to a five-year, $45 million contract last offseason. It will be interesting to see if Thuney commands a similar price and whether or not the Patriots will be willing to pay it.

Collins taking a steep pay cut to stay with Patriots>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Could Patriots ranking among dead money leaders cost team in 2020?

Could Patriots ranking among dead money leaders cost team in 2020?

The New England Patriots have won six Super Bowls over the last 20 years in part by spending wisely.

Is that all about to change?

The Patriots currently have the least amount of cap space of any NFL team at $1.85 million, per Spotrac. Part of the reason for that is the amount of money they're paying to players who won't play for them in 2020 -- otherwise known as "dead money."

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

In fact, New England currently owes $24 million in "dead money," which according to Spotrac puts the team in dubious company.

Let's just say the Panthers, Jaguars, Rams and Dolphins aren't expected to be Super Bowl contenders in 2020.

And if the last four seasons are any indication, the Patriots would be bucking a trend just by going 9-7 in their first season of the post-Tom Brady era.

Brady is the primary reason why New England is in this position: He accounts for $13.5 million of that $24 million number, while Antonio Brown is next-closest with $4.5 million in dead money owed.

But such was the contract that Brady signed last August that gave him a potential out in 2020 -- one he took to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rather than take another pay cut to stay in New England.

Listen and subscribe to Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast:

The Patriots, who have signed all of their 2020 draft picks, still can create extra cap space by trading or extending offensive guard Joe Thuney, who currently has a $14.7 million cap hit that's second-highest on the team.

New England also could restructure the deals of several other players -- like it did recently with Patrick Chung -- to free up more space.

That dead money isn't going away, though, so Bill Belichick and presumptive starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham have another historic precedent to overcome this season.

What's with Jarrett Stidham's surprisingly strong 2020 NFL MVP odds?

What's with Jarrett Stidham's surprisingly strong 2020 NFL MVP odds?

Christian McCaffrey led the NFL in total scrimmage yards in 2019. Jarrett Stidham attempted three passes that weren't intercepted.

Both players share the same odds to win 2020 NFL MVP.

That's right: The New England Patriots' second-year quarterback, who has yet to start an NFL game after backing up Tom Brady last season, is listed at +5000 to win the NFL MVP award at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Stidham shares those +5000 odds with eight other players. Here's the list:

Josh Allen, QB, Bills
Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers
Derrick Henry, RB, Titans
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions

To reiterate: Stidham (who might not even start in Week 1) has the same chance to be named the NFL's best player as the league's rushing title holder (Henry), a former Rookie of the Year (Barkley) and the guy who was supposed to be Brady's heir apparent in New England (Garoppolo).

How is this possible? It's all about expectations.

Many expect the Patriots to nosedive following Brady's departure to Tampa Bay. But if Stidham can guide New England to a winning record or even a playoff berth, he could gain traction as a dark-horse MVP candidate who worked wonders with an offense lacking elite weapons.

Considering Bill Belichick's Patriots went 11-5 with Matt Cassel after Brady got hurt in 2008, that scenario isn't totally far-fetched.

Listen and subscribe to the Next Pats Podcast:

Of course, there still are 11 players with better MVP odds than Stidham, including Brady, whose +1600 odds rank him behind Dak Prescott (+1400), Russell Wilson (+800), Lamar Jackson (+700) and favorite Patrick Mahomes (+400), per DraftKings Sportsbook.

But it appears there's faint optimism among oddsmakers that "The Stidham Plan" will pay off in a breakout season for the 23-year-old QB.