Patriots make surprising move, decide to franchise tag guard Joe Thuney

If you’re in need of offensive line help this offseason, you’re probably waiting for the NFL draft.

Free agency will be pretty light on the line. Another top lineman was taken off the list Monday, when the New England Patriots gave the franchise tag to guard Joe Thuney according to his agent Mike McCartney.

It was a surprising move, considering Thuney isn’t a star and the franchise tag price for a guard will likely be $14 million-15 million. But the Patriots seemed to understand the market.

Joe Thuney has developed into a top guard

By tagging Thuney, the Patriots have options.

They can just pay Thuney, who has started all 64 games in his career and has developed into one of the NFL’s better guards. Thuney ranked sixth among all guards in Pro Football Focus’ grades last season. The Patriots have Shaq Mason, another fantastic guard, and keeping Thuney would allow the offensive line to remain a strength.

The Patriots also could explore a trade. Given how few quality offensive linemen will be available, the Patriots will get interest if they decide to shop him around.

New England Patriots offensive guard Joe Thuney (62) got the franchise tag. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Patriots have been active

In a 24-hour stretch, the Patriots signed safety Devin McCourty and special teams captain Matthew Slater to two-year extensions. Then they tagged Thuney.

Tom Brady, of course, is the elephant in the room. He can become a free agent on Wednesday. Tagging Thuney won’t hurt the Patriots’ chances of re-signing Brady, if he wants to return. Building a strong line in front of a soon-to-be 43-year-old Brady isn’t the worst plan.

No matter who is quarterback for the Patriots, they seem to want to keep as many key players as possible. It cost them a lot to make sure Thuney didn’t walk with nothing in return.

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