The New England Patriots made a powerful statement on Sunday when it was confirmed that they signed free agent Cam Newton to a one-year deal, which conveyed to the rest of the NFL that they intend to compete in 2020 following the departure of Tom Brady.
As great as this news is for the Patriots playoff hopes, it could derail contract negotiations with offensive guard Joe Thuney.
If Thuney doesn't agree to an extension with the Patriots prior to the July 15 deadline, he will play the upcoming season under the franchise tag, which will see him bank $14.8 million. New England tagged the 27-year-old guard with the hopes of signing him long-term or using him as trade bait. The latter is more likely than its ever been following the signing of Newton.
According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, the three-time Pro Bowler's contract is worth up to $7.5 million. The Patriots were already working with limited cap space -- $1.58 million, to be exact -- before this news, so inking Thuney to an extension this offseason won't be any easier.
Bill Belichick and Co. simply don't have the resources or financial flexibility to get a deal done at the moment unless they know exactly what they'll be doing over the next couple of offseasons in terms of signings and releases. Finding a replacement for Tom Brady was obviously paramount, but it will cost New England the chance at extending their most reliable offensive lineman.