How the Patriots Placing the Franchise Tag on Joe Thuney Impacts Tom Brady’s Free Agency

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday that the Patriots have placed the franchise tag on All-Pro left guard Joe Thuney. New England waited until the final minutes before the franchise tag deadline before making the move.The Patriots have rarely used the franchise tag in recent years even when top of the market players like Aqib Talib, Dont’a Hightower, Devin McCourty, Malcom Butler and Trey Flowers hit free agency. The last two times Bill Belichick used the franchise tag were in 2015 on K Stephen Gostkowski and in 2012 on WR Wes Welker, the latter of which resulted in an ugly divorce.

Deapite their recent history with the franchise tag (or lack there of), the Patriots had frequently used the franchise tag to their advantage before then. The Patriots used the tag every year from 2009-2012 and from 2002-2012, there were only 3 seasons in which New England didn’t use the franchise tag.

Joe Thuney’s franchise tag will count roughly $14.8 million against the Patriots cap until they either rescind the tag, trade him or sign him to an extension. The Patriots released the following statement expressing optimism that Thuney and the team could come to terms on an extension in the coming weeks.

NFL reporters around the league have questioned how New England franchise tagging Joe Thuney in tandem with signing Devin McCourty to an extension impacts the Patriots ability to sign Tom Brady.

With the cap in its current state, the Patriots can not afford Tom Brady on any sort of logical contract. A myriad of extensions and roster cuts could change that and enable New England to offer Brady a deal, albeit one that is still significantly lower than market value. Given what has taken place over the last 24 hours, it seems less likely that Tom Brady will re-sign in New England.

Photo: (Mark J. Rebilas – USA Today)

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