The New England Patriots have built two decades worth of competitive football squads by being known for allowing talented players to seek employment elsewhere. This method of developing talent to step up while the team nets a draft pick or two gained, has helped them establish a self-feeding ecosystem where talented players beget more talented players.
In the process, some of these talented player move on to have success on other teams, while some of them live in the collection of former Patriots who apparently benefited more from being in New England than anything else.
Joe Thuney is set to become the next player in this history, as he hits free-agency at the age of 27, as a two-time Super Bowl Champion and 2019 Second-Team All-Pro selection.
JOE THUNEY’S CAREER THUS FAR
Getting drafted in the third round, there was plenty of reason to be optimistic about Thuney’s future in the NFL, but also plenty of reason to speculate about whether or not he’d put it all together.
Four seasons later, it's plain to see he has, and he’s about to get paid handsomely for it.
Since coming into the league, Thuney has started and played in every single game possible. A clean 64-for-64, all while getting better and better at his position with the New England Patriots.
Now, he’s coming off of his two best seasons. Taking his four years of playoff experience, and his first career All-Pro selection.
Could he help in Tampa?
WHY IT WORKS
Of course he could. If he couldn’t, he wouldn’t have a profile in this series, right? But the question is, how?
Well, for starters, as well as Alex Cappa held his own in 2019, Thuney is an immediate upgrade. Pairing him with Ryan Jensen and Ali Marpet gives Tampa Bay a shot at putting together the best interior offensive line in the NFL.
Another reason this fits, is because of Tom Brady. The ‘G.O.A.T.’ has been rumored to potentially land in Tampa just as much as he has with just about every other team needing a quarterback. Many feel he wouldn’t be as successful with the Bucs because the offensive line isn’t the same.
Bringing in Thuney isn’t quite a copy/paste job of offensive line transference, but as far as the line group getting up to speed with how Brady plays and leads, he’d be a pretty solid instructor in the ‘Protect Brady Buccaneers Crash Course’ that would go on this summer.
And then there’s the V-Word. Versatility. Thuney has experience at every position on the offensive line. With a group as thin as Tampa’s, versatility is huge, as it allows the team to shuffle if needed to fill in gaps left by injuries.
It’s going to cost them. A lot. With the shape the Buccaneers roster is in, this signing is one you make to push all the chips in.
Without Jameis Winston, most expect the team would lean on defense and a running game while allowing the quarterback to do just enough to win, or not lose.
Bolstering the offensive line - even at this cost - would protect whomever is playing quarterback for the Bucs more, and would immediately impact the quality of the Buccaneers’ running game.
Drafting someone like Andrew Thomas (OT, Georgia) would see the team dedicating an enormous amount of resources into the offensive line, potentially at the detriment of future financial considerations. But if it brings a Lombardi in the meantime, then the franchise will deem the splurge a worthy one.
WHAT’S THE COST?
Talent isn’t where we’re going to lose some of you. This is. Thuney is projected to demand about $14M per year on a five-year deal. Oh...you’re leaving...oh, ok.
Fortune favors the bold they say. And signing a guard of this caliber to a unit already commanding the majority of the team’s cap considerations would be just that.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
Quarterback finances are going to play a big part in everything the Buccaneers do this off-season. So, until we know what they’re doing there, it’s hard to tell what they’ll do anywhere outside of wanting to bring back guys like Shaquil Barrett, Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul.
Would you pay $7M for an upgrade at the right guard spot? Well, if the Buccaneers get a quarterback for $23M instead of paying $30, then paying Thuney $14M starts to look easier to do once you save the $7M between quarterback-a and quarterback-b.
Or, if the team drafts a guy like Jordan Love in the first round, then spending money to protect him makes more sense, especially on a contract which expires before Love would be up for his first re-negotiation. Allowing the team to essentially shift financial assets from the offensive lineman dedicated to protecting the rookie, to the veteran quarterback who can succeed with lesser paid guys in front of him.
MAKE THE DECISION
Thuney is going to be a legal tampering signee. Only reason he wouldn’t is if he’s hoping to stay with Brady, and waits to find out where he lands first.
Either way, you aren’t getting a player of this caliber outside of March. Giving us four real options. So, which is it?
When it comes to Joe Thuney, what would you have the Buccaneers do?
This poll is closed
Sign him, no matter what.
Make an offer, but keep it reasonable.
Invite him for a cup of coffee and see where it goes from there.
Call him up if there’s a need after the draft.
Don’t need him.