There was no shortage of support in Cincinnati for the Bengals to sign free agent guard Joe Thony last year. The idea was supported by all the factors you could possibly think of.
From the moment Thuney joined the New England Patriots in 2016, he’s become one of the most consistent boxers in the NFL. He never missed a single game for the Patriots as he established himself as an all-around left keeper consistent with the degrees of professional football’s focus to back them up.
Like most of the offensive lineman billed by Bill Belichick, Thone developed quickly and played to his full potential. But this is the New England we’re talking about, and they are as stingy as the Bengals when it comes to their player value assessments. Thuney’s franchise will be awarded in 2020 so he can enter free agency the following year.
Not only was Thony this flawless man in the prime of his life with experience winning at the highest level, he also had regional connections to the Bengals. He grew up in nearby Kettering, Ohio where his family still resides. He was a star at Alter High School and turned it into a North Carolina scholarship. It’s a record in love with Skyline Chili. If the Bengals were to acquire one of the most expensive free offensive businessmen on the market, they would have to take advantage of their hometown advantage.
They didn’t succeed in the end. Rumors of “low ball” emerged from negotiations between the Thone camp and the Bengals and soon followed reports of the Kansas City Chiefs making him into the biggest contract in NFL history for the goalkeeper.
Even as desperate as the Bengal team were to improve their offensive streak last season, the chiefs acted as if it was a life or death situation, and you can’t really blame them for thinking that. They watched Patrick Mahomes’ pass protection collapse over the course of the 2020 season and Mahomes has been transitioning the team to Super Bowl II for several years now. The rag-tag unit will finally collapse in front of the franchise quarterback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which will prove to be the difference in the game. Tom Brady may have won 7
God’s curse It rang out that night, but lasting memories of the game included running Mahomes for his life and nearly making it in the process.
Thony was the first crown jewel of the new leader’s offensive line. The second would be Orlando Brown Jr., who was acquired by the Chiefs via trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Brown wanted out of Baltimore because of his desire to play the left-hander, and Kansas City provided him with that opportunity by forgoing a first-round pick to get him.
Kansas City’s investments in Thone, Brown, and the rest of the line have paid off this year. The Mahomes had a legitimate streak or line of protection among the top five in passing this year, and his new left-footed guard and left-footing duo came to Cincinnati on Sunday with the task of limiting Trey Hendrickson and the Bengals’ varied array of defensive tackles. However, soon things will get difficult.
During the warm-up just before kick-off, Brown straightened his calf and was announced out of the match. Brown’s replacement was Lucas Niang, a 2020 NFL third-round pick, who started eight games this season with an entry on Sunday; Not a bad backup plan against Hendrickson, the Bengals off-season free agent award.
With money the Bengals didn’t use to sign Thuney, Hendrickson was brought in as the highest-paid free-signing agent in the team’s history. We’ve already covered Hendrickson’s impact not only on team defense, but their perspective on team building in general.
Hendrickson had a historic streak of 11 half sack games to continue, and now he’s facing a presumably 40-something back-up. The fourth time, more troubles will arise for Kansas City.
Niang injured his knee after Bulls lunged from Hendrickson just four minutes into the match. Now the bosses had to be really creative. Teams rarely have two active backup tackles on game days. This will require someone to play off-center. How about $80 million in left guard?
For the remainder of the afternoon, Thonie and Hendrickson would swing back and forth, exchanging blows in a very costly brawl. Thuney was making Hendrickson less sack for the first time since Week 4 in a position he hadn’t played before. It’s definitely worthy of recognition, but it’s far from a one-sided relationship. These were some of the best plays in their intense rivalry: