Patriots may be forced to trade Joe Thuney at NFL Draft

The Patriots franchise-tagged a building block on their offensive line in March, but he could still be on the move this week.

The team and left guard Joe Thuney “haven’t been close” to an extension, ESPN reported Sunday, opening up the possibility the Patriots could trade him for a draft pick if the price is right.

Thuney was expected to become a free agent before the Patriots slapped the franchise tag on him, which came with a hefty $14.78 million price tag. If the Patriots are unable to work out a long-term deal with him by July 15, which would presumably lower his annual cap hit, they could have some salary cap issues. The Patriots currently only have about $1 million in cap space, the report said.

Thus, if a team were to offer “a second- or high third-rounder” for the All-Pro, ESPN reported, Bill Belichick might be compelled to make a deal. The Patriots currently hold 12 picks in the draft, but do not own a second-rounder.

Thuney’s current salary is the third-highest among all guards in the league. Only Pro Bowl guards Brandon Scherff (Redskins) and Zack Martin (Cowboys) are making more, with $15 million cap hits in 2020.

The 27-year-old Thuney, measuring in at 6-foot-5 and 308 pounds, has started all 64 games in his Patriots career.

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