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BREAKING: Patriots place franchise tag on guard Joe Thuney

Related: Patriots free agency tracker: News, rumors, signings, instant analysis

Cleveland Browns v New England Patriots Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The New England Patriots have never shied away from making the surprising move, and it seems as if this year’s offseason will see at least one of them: as first reported by the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride and since confirmed by his agent, Mike McCartney, the team will place the franchise tag on impending free agent Joe Thuney before today’s deadline. The Patriots’ starting left guard will therefore not enter free agency once it opens on Wednesday.

Thuney was expected to be one of the most popular offensive linemen to enter the open market this year, but the Patriots’ move alters the picture. It also means two things from the team’s perspective:

1. Thuney’s will cost around $14.8 million: The tag is essentially a one-year contract that pays a player a fully guaranteed salary, with the value being dependent on the player’s position and the specific tag used. In Thuney’s case, the Patriots would have to pay him approximately $14.8 million — if they want to keep him in the fold.

2. Thuney will stay in the fold, for now: Placing the tag on him means that the Patriots could in theory trade their four-year starter to a team of their choice while simultaneously keeping him away from rival teams within the same conference.

Today’s report is just the first domino to fall in regards to Thuney’s free agency status as well as any additional moves by the Patriots. Either way, they have entered the ring in surprising fashion.