Joe Thuney rumors: 5 best fits in NFL free agency

New England Patriots offensive lineman Joe Thuney (Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports)
New England Patriots offensive lineman Joe Thuney (Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Joe Thuney will likely see a robust market if he becomes available in NFL free agency next month.

Joe Thuney has been a stalwart along the New England Patriots’ offensive line ever since he was chosen in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, and after winning a pair of Super Bowl rings, he’s primed to become among the most coveted interior offensive linemen in free agency this offseason.

Thuney, 26, was named a Second-Team All-Pro following the 2019 season and in 2020 allowed just 17 total pressures and two sacks in 980 offensive snaps.

So, what would a team be getting in Thuney if it signed him when the new league year begins?

“He’s a tough and smart player,” an NFC personnel executive told FanSided. “He’s solid, but at this stage of his career he isn’t special. But, what he has going for him heading into free agency is that he’s durable and still relatively young.”

Pro Football Focus gives Thuney a 74.2 overall grade, a 73.1 pass-blocking mark, and a 70.2 run-blocking grade, underscoring the fact that he has the ability to anchor the interior of an offensive line, even for a struggling offense.

“Someone is going to pay, and maybe overpay him,” the executive said.

Despite the fact that there are currently only 19 teams are currently under the current salary cap projection of $180 million — a figure that could rise in coming weeks, but maybe not — at least 13 of those teams could use significant upgrades along their defensive line.

Here’s a look at five teams that would be wise to try to sign Thuney: 

5. New York Giants

Despite the fact that Dave Gettleman is entering his fourth offseason as the Giants’ general manager, after vowing in 2018 that fixing the offensive line was a top organization priority, New York’s offensive line very much remains a work in progress.

Left guard Will Hernandez, the Giants’ second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, regressed dramatically in 2021. Hernandez allowed just one sack, but also 25 total pressures and five quarterback hits in 525 snaps. He was also eventually benched in favor of fifth-round rookie Shane Lemieux, who was a colossal disappointment, producing a 32.2 overall grade from PFF in 504 snaps.

Stabilizing the offensive line in front of quarterback Daniel Jones, in his make-or-break third NFL season, as well as creating running lanes for Saquon Barkley, are among the Giants’ top priorities.

If the NY Giants are not sold on Lemieux developing into a long-term solution at guard (and at this stage, why would they be?), Thuney makes some sense. Likewise, if the Giants move on from Kevin Zeitler and his $14.5 million cap number in 2021, Thuney would be an obvious candidate to replace him.

The New England Patriots-to-Giants pipeline is well-worn at this point, and Joe Judge’s presence as head coach makes New York a fit for Thuney. However, the Giants are currently just $920,000 under the projected salary cap, so it might take some lifting to be in position to beat Thuney’s market.