As the New England Patriots prepare for the 2021 NFL season, here are three players who won’t return when the new season kicks off.
After a below-average 2020 NFL season ending in disappointment of missing out on the postseason, the New England Patriots hope to rebuild the roster this offseason in order to bounce back in a big way in 2021.
New England had hopes of being able to continue its dominance a season ago following the departure of legendary quarterback Tom Brady and some other players on both sides of the ball not taking the field for the team after doing so in years pasts.
With that change in personnel, many around the league were wondering if the Patriots would continue their dominance in the AFC East and in the NFL or if they would go through somewhat of a rebuilding season for the first time in what seems like forever.
After going out and signing veteran quarterback Cam Newton off the free-agent market to lead the offense under center while featuring some fresh faces in every aspect of the depth chart, New England ended the regular season schedule not returning to the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.
In 2020, the Patriots concluded the year with a very up and down performance throughout the 16-game season, including going through a rough portion in the middle of the schedule while bouncing back to nearly have a chance to reach the AFC Playoffs yet again.
At the end of the campaign, however, New England finished with a below-.500 record of 7-9 overall, which placed them in third in the AFC East standings and on the outside of the postseason picture looking in.
Now with the offseason here for the Patriots, they aim to get some players back leading up to the 2021 season while hopefully filling some holes on the depth chart via the NFL Draft, free agency or the trade market before the new year officially kicks off.
As transactions begin to take place and pieces continue to be added to rosters in the NFL, let’s take a look at three players who might be on their way out of New England and who won’t return to the squad in 2021.
3. Joe Thuney
Among the many tough decisions New England might have to make this offseason, one player it will have to make a long-term decision on is veteran offensive lineman Joe Thuney.
Thuney, who is 28 years old, could still help the Patriots on the front lines for the 2021 season and the next handful of years, but he would likely come at a high cost if New England wanted to bring him back.
In 2020, Thuney was franchised tagged by the organization, resulting in him making about $14.8 million over the course of the year. If the Patriots were to resign him, which could still happen but isn’t likely, he would probably ask for at least $15 million a year on average. That will obviously be a lot for New England — or any other NFL team — to commit to in the long term, especially since the Patriots have more positions to address than just offensive line.
With the anticipated expense that the veteran lineman would require, New England would likely turn to a cheaper option on the line to replace Thuney. The Patriots did manage to draft a few intriguing prospects on the line in 2020 who could take over in a starting role or the team could also look to the free agent market to find a cheaper option at that position.
There is no doubt Thuney could still help a team in the NFL, but it’s just a matter of who needs an offensive lineman bad enough to dish out that kind of money to bring the likes of Thuney in. When it comes to New England, it likely wouldn’t be willing to be that team to do so.