When the New England Patriots placed the franchise tag on Joe Thuney in mid-March, they said they were "hopeful" to agree to a long-term contract extension with the offensive guard.

That hope is dwindling by the day.

The Patriots have until July 15 to sign Thuney to a long-term deal, or else he'll play the 2020 season under a one-year franchise tag contract worth $14.78 million.

But New England and Thuney are "no closer to an extension" than they were in March, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss, who speculated Sunday there's an 80 percent likelihood Thuney plays under the franchise tag this season.

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As our Patriots Insider Phil Perry recently explained, Thuney is in a position of leverage. If he plays under his tag for $14.78 million, he'll be the second-highest-paid guard in the NFL behind Washington's Brandon Scherff. So, there's little financial incentive for him to sign a long-term deal unless it's very favorable.

Reiss also cited another important piece of evidence: None of the 14 players who were assigned the franchise tag have agreed to long-term deals this offseason.

That's in part due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has made teams hesitant to hand out long-term contracts with the possibility of their revenue taking a hit if games are played without fans this fall (or not played at all).


The Patriots have the least cap space of any team in the NFL, so if they don't want to trade Thuney, it's in their best interest to restructure his deal to lower their 2020 cap hit. But it may be in Thuney's best interest to play on a high-paying salary in 2020 before testing free agency as a second-team All-Pro.

We'll find out over the next three-plus weeks if either side budges in contract negotiations, but apparently it's not looking likely.