Bedard: With Joe Thuney now stuck on the tag ($14.781 million), time for Patriots to make a deal

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Everyone knows how I feel about Joe Thuney. I love when a player just grinds and slowly makes themselves better every year, and that's exactly what the 2016 third-round pick did the past four years.

Thuney was basically flawless last season:

Joe Thuney (99.2%): Not that he slacked off any other season, but he picked the right time to have a sterling year with just 8 pressures (1.1 percent) and four bad runs (0.9 percent) allowed. Should have been a Pro Bowler but was a deserved second-team All-Pro. Simply a phenomenally consistent performer who will get paid handsomely this offseason. A terrific player. Grade: A-plus.

So Thuney absolutely deserves the $14.781 million he'll receive for the 2020 season (whether it happens or not) on the franchise tag, now that the deadline to reach a contract extension came and went at 4 p.m. (he can't get an extension now until the 2021 league year).

Thuney has earned it.

But the Patriots shouldn't be the team to pay, not since they're already paying Shaq Mason, the other guard, $9 million this season.

(In case you're wondering about trading Mason, it would cost the team about $10 million in cap space while a Thuney trade would give the Patriots $14.781 million of cap space.)

Bill Belichick gambled he could — and should — get more for Thuney in a trade than a third-round compensatory pick (same as his draft level after four years of development), and the coach has lost to this point.

Belichick should cut his losses, get as much for Thuney in a trade, and move on.

If not, Belichick stands to lose even more.