The list of New England Patriots headed for free agency this year was a long one, but the biggest name on it was that of Joe Thuney. One of the best guards in football, the expectation was that he would sign a record-breaking new contract — possibly in New England, but more likely with another team given the construction of the Patriots’ roster.
That did indeed happen, as Thuney agreed to join the Kansas City Chiefs on a massive five-year deal valued at up to $80 million.
While that is plenty of money invested in one offensive lineman, the 28-year-old earned his payday due to his five seasons with the Patriots. During that span, the former third-round draft pick became one of the most reliable players in all of football: Thuney missed not a single game — he started all 90 of New England’s contests since 2016 — and established himself as a standout player in pass protection and run blocking.
Along the way, Thuney helped the Patriots win two Super Bowls and was voted to the organization’s Team of the 2010s. He also earned himself a first significant uptick in compensation last offseason, when New England opted to place the franchise tag on him to keep him in the fold for one more year.
This time, no such move was made and Thuney therefore given an opportunity to explore his market. It was, as is evidence by his contract, an active one.
Now already in Kansas City, he took one last look back on his time as a Patriot on Friday morning: Thuney took to social media to pen his goodbye to the team and its fans, nothing that New England “will forever hold a special place” in his heart.
The full statement, as shared on Thuney’s Instagram account, reads as follows:
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind and I wanted to take time to reflect on the past 5 years. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been part of such a top class organization like the Patriots. I cannot say thank you enough to the Kraft family, Coach Belichick, Scar, all the coaches and support staff throughout the organization, the fans of New England, and especially my teammates.
I gave everything I had for the team and I just wanted to be out on the that field fighting for the men beside me week in and week out. New England will forever hold a special place in my heart and I will always be a Patriot. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d experience the past 5 years, but I am eternally grateful. All good things must come to an end, and the journey continues. Thank you New England.
While Thuney left the Patriots to help protect former league and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, his old team is on its way to still field one of the most talented offensive lines in football.
New England was able to re-sign starting center David Andrews and also added versatile interior lineman Ted Karras to the mix after his one-year stint in Miami. With impressive second-year man Michael Onwenu expected to move into Thuney’s old spot, and with Trent Brown being acquired via trade to join fellow projected starters Isaiah Wynn and Shaq Mason, the O-line will remain a strength of the Patriots even with Thuney gone.