Patriots left guard Joe Thuney will make $14.781 million this season under his one-year, franchise-tag contract. Associated Press/Ron Schwane

The New England Patriots did not reach a multiyear contract agreement with left guard Joe Thuney before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. deadline for players under the franchise tag, which means he will play for his assigned one-year salary of $14.781 million.
Only a few of the 14 players who were tagged by their respective teams – Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones and Titans running back Derrick Henry – got contract extensions. Given the uncertainty about the salary cap in years to come, with expected revenue losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many teams weren’t willing to commit to high salaries down the road.
Retaining Thuney, even if it’s only for the year, is beneficial to the Patriots. With a new quarterback taking over after the departure of Tom Brady, the importance of the offensive line becomes magnified.
Whether it’s Cam Newton or Jarrett Stidham at quarterback, pass blocking will be essential, and establishing the run game with good blocking up front will also be important. Having Thuney allows the Patriots to keep one of the NFL’s best starting lines intact for the transition from Brady. Thuney has been the offensive line’s best and most consistent performer since his arrival in 2016.
The offensive lineman now has the second-highest cap charge on the team behind Stephon Gilmore ($18.6 million). Thuney’s salary, combined with Shaq Mason (five-year, $50 million extension in 2018), gives the Patriots the highest guard payroll in the NFL.
Thuney will become an unrestricted free agent after this season. It made sense for him to play on the tag, and then see if he can land a favorable longterm deal on the open market.
• Running back Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans agreed on a multiyear deal, reported to be $50 million over four years, but Dak Prescott will play whatever becomes of the 2020 season under the one-year franchise tag after the Dallas Cowboys and their star quarterback couldn’t agree on a long-term contract.
Henry, the NFL’s leading rusher last season, will get $25.5 million guaranteed, according to
Prescott signed his $31.4 million franchise tag contract in June. The 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year earned slightly more than $4 million total in the four years of his rookie contract after being drafted in the fourth round.

The Cowboys and Prescott have been working for more than a year on a long-term contract for a two-time Pro Bowler who has started every game of his career.
Two more players under the franchise tag – Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green and Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue – haven’t signed the one-year contract that goes with the tag. They can stay away from team activities without the risk of being fined. Ngakoue has said he won’t play for the Jaguars and wants to be traded.

BROWNS: Myles Garrett’s on-field misbehavior last season damaged his public image. It didn’t change how the team feels about him.

The team signed Garrett to a five-year, $125 million contract extension, making the talented edge rusher the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player. The deal includes $100 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network.

The timing of Garrett’s extension is surprising since the last time he played in a game, it ended with him ripping off Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet and striking him in the head with it. The shocking attack led to a six-game suspension for Garrett, 24, and questions about his character.

“Myles has been accountable for his mistake and we view the incident as well out of character,” said Browns first-year general manager Andrew Berry. “We don’t believe one moment should define him based on how he has handled himself prior to and in the months after last year’s incident.

“We are excited to ensure that Myles will stay in Cleveland for the foreseeable future.”

SEVERAL PATRIOTS players have taken to social media to express doubts and skepticism about the NFL being able to conduct a season during a global pandemic.
Cornerback Jonathan Jones started a string of tweets with this: “I don’t know who needs to hear this but you can’t social distance football”
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower followed: “Ain’t no way.”
Safety Patrick Chung agreed with his teammates: “Not a damn shot. They are trippin.”
During the past few weeks, the McCourty brothers have offered similar views. On Monday, Devin and Jason wrote in a Monday Morning Quarterback piece about not even having a set date for training camp as of yet, while also wondering about their options.
“Will we have an option to opt out of the season? Will we be making our full salary? What if there is a COVID outbreak within the league?” they wrote. “It’s so hard to make a decision of whether we will play or not without knowing what the exact plan is …
“Will we be able to have meetings in the building? Or will the meetings still be done virtually? Will testing be a few times a week or will it be every day? As players, how do we decide what is best for us and our families when we don’t know what we’re walking into?”

BILLS: New Era Field will no longer be the name of Buffalo’s home stadium, after the global sports headware and clothing apparel company asked to be released from its naming rights and sponsorship agreement.

No reason was provided for the move, though it comes a little over a week after New Era Cap Company laid off 117 employees at its Buffalo-based headquarters.

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