Regardless of whether Tom Brady stays or goes, the New England Patriots may lose two key players who protected the quarterback in 2019.
Offensive guard Joe Thuney and center Ted Karras both are set to be free agents on March 18. And according to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, both offensive linemen could command serious money on the open market.
Here's Howe on Thuney:
Joe Thuney’s market has predictably exploded. One observer estimated Thuney could command $14-15 million annually.
Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowler Brandon Brooks ($14.1 million) and Dallas Cowboys All-Pro Zack Martin ($14 million) are the only guards making $14 million or more per year. Thuney has played his way into that conversation, though: The 27-year-old was a second-team All-Pro in 2019 and had Pro Football Focus' fifth-highest overall grade among all NFL guards.
In fact, PFF ranks Thuney as the league's eighth-best non-quarterback free agent and tops our list of free-agent offensive linemen in 2020.
Karras isn't on that level but still should get paid handsomely, per Howe:
Ted Karras’ market has also been hot. With the number of interested teams, he could corral upwards of $10 million annually.
Karras started 15 games at center for New England after David Andrews went on injured reserve due to a blood clot issue. He finished as PFF's 20th-ranked center in 2019 and would join just seven NFL centers making more than $10 million per year.
Stephon Gilmore is the only Patriot under contract making north of $10 million per year, so it seems unlikely New England would spend to keep both Thuney and Karras, especially if the team wants to re-sign Brady.
That means whoever replaces Dante Scarnecchia as Patriots offensive line coach will need to work with at least one new starter in 2020.