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2021 NFL free agency: Patriots lose guard Joe Thuney to the Chiefs on a five-year, $80 million deal

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

New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

While the New England Patriots started the legal tampering period by bringing four players aboard from outside the organization, their biggest in-house free agent remained unaccounted for. Now, however, Joe Thuney has found a home — and it is not in New England: the Patriots’ long-time starting left tackle will join the Kansas City Chiefs on a five-year contract worth a total of $80 million.

A third-round draft pick in 2016, Thuney has been a starter at left guard for the Patriots’ offensive line since Day One. Since then, he has established himself as one of the most reliable and durable blockers in football — one that played 90 of a possible 90 games over the first five years of his career. A one-time second-team All-Pro, he has helped the organization win two Super Bowls and also was named to its Team of the 2010s.

His experience, durability and versatility — he started two games at center during the 2020 season — made him a prime target for teams looking to upgrade their interior offensive lines. The Chiefs, fresh off a Super Bowl loss that saw quarterback Patrick Mahomes get pressured on a consistent basis, were the team to eventually land the 28-year-old.

With Thuney gone, the expectation is that the Patriots will move second-year man Michael Onwenu to the now-vacant guard position opposite Shaq Mason. Isaiah Wynn and recent trade re-acquisition Trent Brown are the prime candidates to start at tackle, with the center position remaining open. Long-time starter and team captain David Andrews is a free agent as well.