Where Will Thuney Land?
The New England Patriots opted not to franchise tag Joe Thuney. That means that the guard will test the free agency market. The former Pro-Bowl guard is arguably the finest guard on the market. Thuney owns a ton of experience, and he’s not old; he brings Super Bowl-winning cache to any team he will join.
As the Super Bowl demonstrated, offensive-line play is still vital if a team is to win games. Several teams will think that their offensive-line situation is healthy. However, a player such as Thuney improves most offensive-lines. He should get considered by plenty of teams. Its time to examine who are the best fits for Joe Thuney.
The Vikings’ offensive-line play struggled during an inconsistent 2020 season. The unit ranked 18th in pass-block success. That is not good enough when the quarterback is the statue-Esque Kirk Cousins. Thuney is a considerable upgrade on incumbent guards Ezra Cleveland and Dakota Dozier.
One of the advantages of signing Thuney is he understands run-heavy offenses. After spending 2020 in New England, Thuney owns a little bit of prior knowledge in a single-back inside-zone offense. If the Vikings let Riley Reiff go, Thuney is the right man to assume the unit’s leadership. Thuney is a premium player.
Therefore there is a premium price tag; his market value per Spotrac $15.3 million. Some cap juggling would need to get done by Minnesota if they are to make this move.
New York Giants
It seems as if the Giants are letting Kevin Zeitler leave the franchise. That move could save New York around $14.5 million on the cap this year. The additional cap space could allow them to make a move for Thuney. Daniel Jones is still skittish under pressure, and New York must protect him if they feel he is their franchise quarterback. The Giants staff boast plenty of ex-Patriots, both in the front office and coaching staff. The staff know Thuney better than perhaps any other team in the country.
With Saquon Barkley coming back, strong offensive line play is critical to the Giants’ success in the NFC East. Barkley is an uncomplicated runner with all of the skills. Thuney is a solid trap-blocker and lead-blocker. Those skills can open up holes for the running back. If the back is the explosive Barkley, the Giants could be onto a winner if they sign Thuney.
New York Jets
The New York Jets possess a ton of cap space for 2021. They can pay Thuney his market worth and still stay in a healthy position cap-wise. The other reason to sign Thuney is the quarterback position. Either Sam Darnold or a rookie will line up for GangGreen in 2021. All young quarterbacks require a heavy dose of protection from their offensive line. Thuney can also become a locker-room leader on a rebuilding squad that is bereft of experienced winners.
Mike LaFleur is the new offensive coordinator in the Meadowlands. He is of the Shanahan/McVay tree; those offenses thrive on the strong offensive-line play. They want to pass out of the run; they want to use play-action and run on opponents. New York needs some superglue in its line.
Thuney can play a pivotal role as the team look to fortify the trenches. Every rebuilding team requires a cornerstone piece in each position room, Thuney is that guy. And, the Jets would make plenty of Patriots fans unhappy if they bring the guard to New Jersey.
Like the Jets, the Jags are in a healthy situation regarding the salary cap. Urban Meyer’s team will attack the market to build a talented team around Trevor Lawrence. The Clemson man will desire a veteran presence on the offensive line to protect him. Who better than Thuney? It is a no-brainer move for the Jags.
As for Thuney, he’d swap cold, miserable Massachusetts for sunny Florida and a chance to work for one of the most famous coaches on the planet. Teams always talk about creating a winning culture; Thuney would arrive from a winning locker room, ready to add that invaluable knowledge and cache to a team that needs it.
Thuney never misses games and can walk straight into the locker-room and command respect. He can also play a big part in helping exciting runner James Madsion develop in the running game.
Young quarterbacks need protecting. That’s why the Bengals should chase Thuney. Joe Burrow possesses all the skills to develop into a special quarterback. However, the Bengals must protect their Ohio-born saviour. Sadly, 2020 saw big problems arise.
Burrow’s offensive line was terrible. He had no protection and spent most of his time trying to evade pressure. No-one can forget the day the Ravens rag-dolled him into the ground. In a division with TJ Watt, Myles Garrett and the ferocious Ravens, Burrow needs help.
The Bengals are another team in an adequate space regarding the cap. The big caveat to this move is this; will Thuney want to go to the Bengals. He is in the prime of his career; does he want to waste it on a rebuilding team. Forgetting that, the Bengals must pick up the phone and call him. If you never swing, you’ll never score.