Joe Thuney trade makes sense if Chiefs want offensive line investment

FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 24: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with Joe Thuney #62 of the New England Patriots after a touchdown in the first quarter of a game against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 24: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with Joe Thuney #62 of the New England Patriots after a touchdown in the first quarter of a game against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Chiefs make sense for a potential Joe Thuney trade if the rumors of their interest in a major OL investment are true.

Here’s what we know at this point: The Kansas City Chiefs look like they are out of money to spend. The roster is already talented enough to win a Super Bowl, so any moves made are likely to be minor. The NFL Draft is the likeliest place where any major roster upgrades are going to occur from here until the season begins.

Why, then, are we writing about a potentially expensive trade candidate in Joe Thuney?

Right now, Thuney is a member of the New England Patriots, just where he’s been for the last four years. A former third round pick, Thuney turned in an All-Pro level performance at guard last season for the Pats after helping them win a Super Bowl in 2018. Only 27, Thuney was set to hit unrestricted free agency but instead the Patriots placed the franchise tag on him.

Either way, Thuney will be expensive.

For some reason, rumors are swirling that the Pats would rather trade than keep Thuney. The team’s other starting guard, Shaq Mason, is making significant money and it’s not exactly en vogue to pay major money to multiple interior linemen in the NFL. Besides it’s the Patriot Way to allow talent to leave one way or the other in order to stay forever young with continuous incoming draft assets.

So far this offseason, Thuney has been linked to a number of teams in plausible trade scenarios—all conjecture by NFL talking heads hoping to fill column inches and generate chatter. And this is no different. There’s absolutely no substance at all linking the Chiefs to Joe Thuney. What there is, however, is a sort of bridge to the subject.

Just a month ago, the Kansas City Chiefs reportedly missed out on a big-money free agent in New Orleans Saints lineman Andrus Peat. According to Herbie Teope, the Chiefs were interested in Peat.

Let’s read more into this than we should because I think it’s actually on track to do so(but we should also realize that Teope never said anything of the sort):

  • Peat has made the last two Pro Bowls and is only 26.
  • If the Chiefs were in the running (even just listed as interested), there’s no way such a report would be made if the Chiefs had just offered some veteran minimum hoping the sexiness of working with Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid would convert him.
  • In reading Teope’s report, I take it that the Chiefs actually put out a competitive offer and that the familiarity of playing for the only team he’s ever known lured him back.

Simply put, it makes no sense to say the Chiefs lost out if they never made any real effort in the first place. If the Chiefs called and told Peat’s agent, “Hey, we’d love to have him if he’s willing to sign for next to nothing,” that wouldn’t be newsworthy in the slightest. Instead, this had to be a realistic scenario, which means realistic money for a 26-year-old Pro Bowl guard in his prime.

All of this is important because the commonly held belief is that the Chiefs are out of money, but that’s simply not true. Teams have all kinds of measures in place they can use to generate cap space and any new contract for a player like Peat is usually quite low in the first year of the deal. The Saints signed Peat to a five-year, $57 million deal but the first year’s cap hit is a scant $3.6M. Yes, the Chiefs could afford that.

If the Chiefs were interested in a big-money guard from New Orleans, then it makes sense that they might like other available guards in their prime. Unfortunately only two remain and they’re both tagged: Brandon Scherff of the Washington Redskins and Thuney. Scherff is working out a long-term deal with Washington, which means Thuney is the most obvious target (if K.C. is interested, that is).

The very deal that Peat just signed seems like a good comparison point for Joe Thuney, but Spotrac sets his market value just a tad higher at five years for $69.8 million. That equals just under $14 million per year. If that feels like a lot for the Chiefs, it is, but then again, remember they were in on Peat, whatever that means.

In addition to having to pay Thuney a likely extension, the Chiefs would also have to give up a draft asset and this is what might make things a bit tough to stomach. The Chiefs only have five draft selections in the first place, so surrendering one of those to land Thuney feels like a major price to pay. Instead the Chiefs seem more like the kind of team to trade down and acquire picks rather than send them away.

But here again we have to remember that Brett Veach’s vision for this roster including importing a Pro Bowl talent at guard. The revolving door at left guard has been ongoing for as long as Andy Reid has been the head coach—Jeff Allen, Mike McGlynn, Zach Fulton, Bryan Witzmann, Cam Erving, Andrew Wylie, Stefen Wisniewski. Perhaps Veach is ready to seal that door shut.

While it’s easy to focus on the cost and wring our heads, it’s also good to look at the other side. Picture the Chiefs with Thuney at left guard instead of the carousel of low-cost additions or fringe prospects. After a season in which Patrick Mahomes was hobbled for so many games (if not injured outright), Thuney’s addition would go a long way toward keeping him protected and able to do what he wants offensively. It would also raise the entire ceiling, giving the Chiefs another high-ceiling player along with Mitch Schwartz on the front line.

So what would all of this cost? This would be my uneducated guess:

Chiefs trade: 3rd round pick, 6th round pick in 2021

Patriots trade: Joe Thuney, 7th round pick

The Pats get a top 100 pick in this year’s deep draft instead of waiting for a compensatory third one year later in a lesser class. They also pick up an extra pick next year. For the Chiefs, the 2021 draft should include a couple compensatory picks already (Kendall Fuller, Emmanuel Ogbah), so trading one is nothing to worry about. And adding an All-Pro guard at the age of 27 for a third round pick is an acceptable hit every time.

As for the finances, let’s not forget that this year’s draft class will bring about some potential cuts. If the Chiefs import a safety, then Dan Sorensen could be cut, generating $4 million or so in cap space). If Thuney is traded, then Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (as a post-June 1 cut) would generate $7 million in cap space. If a linebacker, then either Anthony Hitchens or Damien Wilson would create $8.5M or $4.5M in cap space, respectively. That doesn’t include smaller cuts that could be made like Dustin Colquitt, Damien Williams, or Austin Reiter.

All of this is, indeed, a longshot. There are other teams with more cap space and likely higher picks than what the Chiefs would surrender in a scenario like this. The Chiefs also lack easily defined cap space as well as draft assets. But we said from the beginning this was all conjecture.

However if the Chiefs are still interested in a high-ceiling import at guard in his prime and are willing to free up the money, the Patriots might make the right trade partner in an attempt to bring in Joe Thuney to Kansas City.