Never say never. Deadlines spur action.
But as the NFL approaches its deadline for players who've received the franchise tag to negotiate long-term agreements with their teams, things remain quiet between the Patriots and Joe Thuney, according to a source.
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Thuney signed his franchise tender earlier this offseason, which will pay him near the top of the market for offensive linemen on a one-year, fully-guaranteed deal worth nearly $15 million.
"Joe has been a model teammate and an essential element to our success since joining our team in 2016," a Patriots' March 16 statement read. "Utilizing the franchise designation allows both sides more time to try to reach the goal of a long-term agreement."
Never say never when it comes to the Patriots and Joe Thuney striking a deal before the deadline. But I'm hearing that it's been "pretty quiet" on that front to this point.— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) July 15, 2020
Hours away from Thuney being locked in on the franchise tag for nearly $15 million in 2020. https://t.co/cPCWFF2ThN
The Patriots have until 4 p.m. EST to strike a long-term deal with Thuney. If they do, they'd likely have to make the 27-year-old one of the league's highest-paid guards. He hasn't missed a start in four years. He's helped the Patriots win two Super Bowls. He was named a Second-Team All-Pro last season. Pro Football Focus credited Thuney with only one sack allowed over the last two years. He did not commit a penalty in 2019.
The NFL's uncertain financial future — 2020 revenues will be impacted by COVID, which will impact the salary cap — has made long-term deals for tagged players across the league a relative rarity. Again, never say never, but as of Wednesday morning it appears as though Thuney will play out 2020 on a one-year contract and then have an opportunity to hit the market again in 2021.
Though the cap could shrink next year, the good news for Thuney is that people we've spoken to consider Thuney's next long-term deal to be "COVID-proof." Players of his caliber, the thinking goes, will still be paid what they're worth.
It's the class of average veterans sprinkled throughout the league — more experienced but more expensive than players on rookie deals — who could suffer.