Y’all got any more of that... draft?
Due to the Patriots currently operating with salary cap space that’s approximately comparable to “gotta make it till Friday” in college, a pretty popular source of speculation was potentially swinging a trade over draft weekend with franchise-tagged guard Joe Thuney. Possibly for a player, possibly for picks, possibly for that major move up the board that... never happened, and actually the exact opposite thing happened when Belichick & friends traded out of the first round entirely.
And here we are a week later, and Joe Thuney as far as we know is no closer to his second Patriots contract than he was before (to our knowledge). What gives?
Well, frankly, like most of us, if the deadline to get something done is miles away, there’s no need to be crushing Red Bull at midnight trying to finish that Powerpoint, right?
That’s the situation. Thuney’s signed his franchise tag, so that’s locked in, but the next big date on the calendar in terms of making Joe a Patriot For Life™ (or damn close if he’s one of the rare breed that can ball well into his mid-30’s. He’s already 27 years old) is... not till after the 4th of July.
For more we turn to the elitest of elite in salary cap knowledge, and you already know who I’m referring to:
Thuney’s extension deadline is 4PM July 15 https://t.co/P84ZBh9rip— Cap Space=$1,666,777 (@patscap) April 28, 2020
Will be very much surprised if Joe Thuney is on the Patriots roster on July 16 at his current cap number of $14.781M since 4PM July 15th is the deadline to reach an extension with him. https://t.co/iLRbFFDBBV— Cap Space=$1,666,777 (@patscap) April 26, 2020
So based on quarantine time, July 15th could be either one week or 13 years from now. Your guess is as good as mine.
Jokes aside, unless Joe’s demanding to be the highest-paid guard in the league in terms of both average annual value and guaranteed money, that is by any reasonable definition plenty of time for both sides to come to some mutually agreeable terms, even though last time we heard from them, the two sides weren’t close on any kind of long-term deal. If past Belichick deals for elite-level players are any indication, resetting the market is probably out of the question, but blazing past Andrew Norwell’s position-record $30,000,000 guaranteed on a five-year deal doesn’t seem too outlandish when you consider Joe wrapped up the 2019 season as a second-team All-Pro.
Now for the uncomfortable part for Thuney fans: that also gives the Patriots a significant amount of time to try to work out a trade if talks go sour. Granted, any team that’d actually pony up to trade for Joe now would surely want some sort of extension agreed upon in principle before they crossed the T’s and dotted the lowercase J’s. That possibility is certainly still on the table though, and while the Patriots aren’t in desperate need of cap space at the current moment, they still have a rookie class to sign and need some breathing room for the regular season.
Purely speculating, though, it seems kind of unlikely that Bill and the Patriots would be willing to go through all of this, tagging Joe, working towards an extension, borking the cap in the process, and then not trading him before or during the draft, if the goal wasn’t to keep him protecting Jarrett Stidham long-term.