Patriots G Joe Thuney becomes first player to sign franchise tag tender

NFL free agents: Joe Thuney
Dec 21, 2019; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots offensive guard Joe Thuney (62) looks to block against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots surprised the masses earlier this week when they placed the franchise tag on starting guard Joe Thuney. It flew somewhat under the radar due to the entire Tom Brady situation. But retaining the 2016 third-round pick was a necessity.

In turn, Thuney has now become the first player to sign said tender. He will earn $14.78 million in 2020.

No matter who is under center for the Patriots next season, retaining Thuney is going to be absolutely huge moving forward. The 27-year-old former North Carolina State star has started all 64 games over the course of his first four NFL seasons.

According to Pro Football Focus, Thuney graded out as the fifth-best guard in the NFL last season.