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Why the Saints should sign Joe Thuney

He would be an immediate improvement on the offensive line.

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Andrus Peat might have made the Pro Bowl for the New Orleans Saints in 2019, but the eye test seemed to indicate 2019 was not the best of years for the former first round pick. Pro Football Focus graded Peat’s 2019 at 49.7 (out of 100), with three penalties given up and three sacks allowed.

Peat is set to potential test the market in free agency this year, and that begs the question: should the Saints attempt to re-sign him? If not, are there any other options for a potential replacement?

Enter Joe Thuney.

NFL: New England Patriots at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Thuney is a year older than Peat, and has played his entire career for the New England Patriots. With reports that the Patriots are willing to pay Tom Brady $30+ million per year to return, it’s not clear if they will have the money to keep Thuney, a free agent this offseason.

Our friends over at Pats Pulpit have predicted a $34 million dollar contact for four years for Thuney, “Essentially...the same as the four-year, $29 million contract that Jets guard Brian Winters signed in 2017, but adjusted for an estimated 2019 league salary cap of $190 million.” This comes out to roughly $8 million per year. For reference, the Saints paid Andrus Peat $9 million in 2019.

Like Peat, Thuney plays left guard, so the position similarity makes sense. On paper, Thuney appears to be a significant upgrade. Pro Football Focus gave Thuney a 77.4 grade for 2019 with zero penalties and only one sack allowed.

Knowing that the Saints can’t afford to sign someone like Brandon Scherff of Washington, if the Saints could somehow sign Thuney for at or near the same cost it would take to keep Peat, it makes sense to pull the trigger. In losing Peat you would be losing the primary backup at left tackle when Terron Armstead ultimately suffers another injury in 2020, as Nick Easton and/or Will Clapp have also only played the guard position. If the Saints were to let Peat walk and sign someone like Thuney who doesn’t have any experience at left tackle, they would need to either have Easton or Clapp take reps there in the preseason or hope that Michael Ola makes significant strides in camp.

Still, considering the upgrade that Thuney represents at left guard, it makes all the sense in the world to bring him in.