Last week it was reported that the Patriots sent Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins a letter stating that the team could exercise its option to reduce his salary should he fail to sign his restricted free agent tender. Mankins has now broken his silence and the noise he’s making doesn’t sound good for the Mankins/Patriots relationship. ESPNBoston.com is now reporting that Logan Mankins is demanding a trade. Including comments from Mankins, the story indicates that the relationship between the team and the player has soured tremendously over negotiations on a long-term deal. The following comment from Mankins says it all:
“I want to be traded. I don’t need to be here any more.”
Ouch. Where does all the hostility come from?
Well, Mankins feels that he was lied to by the team after he acted in good faith by playing out 2009 under an “undervalued” contract. He has stated that he will not attend mandatory mini-camp this week and he will absolutely not sign the RFA tender. The Patriots can then drop his guaranteed $3.26 million offer down to $1.54 million. The Boston Globe is now reporting that the team has done exactly that. Unfortunately for Mankins, he does not have much leverage in the matter. The Globe is also reporting that the team made Mankins substantial long-term offer, totaling about $7 million per year for 5 years. Mankins confirmed as much, though the word coming from his camp is much more than that. According to Mankins’ agent Frank Bauer, the Patriots’ final offer was about 20% of the contract that Jahri Evans signed with the Saints. Evans’ contract was worth $56.7 million, totaling about $8 million per season for 7 years. If my math is correct, that would make the final offer to Mankins worth about $45 million in total, according to the 20% figure provided by Mankins’ agent. That’s pretty substantial.
Both the contract reported by the Globe and the number provided by Mankins’ agent would put Mankins in the top 5 pay-scale among NFL guards. I can’t see how either number is unacceptable. The Pats just signed Vince Wilfork to a 5-year, $40 million contract and have the Tom Brady extension looming over the horizon. Wilfork plays a much more important position to the team, nose tackle in the 3-4 defense, and Tom Brady is, well, Tom Brady. The Pats have been pretty successful plugging in players at the guard position, which lowers Mankins’ leverage. The Patriots contend that they are hesitant to sign another large contract with the uncertainty still looming over the NFL with the CBA. Speaking of the uncertain climate, Mankins commented on that and his words are kind of confusing. See if you can find something a bit off here:
“I was asked to play ’09 out, and that they would address the contract during the uncapped year. I’m a team player, I took them at their word, and I felt I played out an undervalued contract. Right now, this is about principle with me and keeping your word and how you treat people. This is what I thought the foundation of the Patriots was built on. Apparently, I was wrong. Growing up, I was taught a man’s word is his bond. Obviously this isn’t the case with the Patriots.”
How exactly are the Patriots not being true to their word? According to Mankins, they said that they would address his contract during the uncapped year, and it’s the uncapped year and they have, according to the Globe and Logan’s own agent. Perhaps they have not addressed the numbers he wants, but they have certainly addressed it nonetheless. With the strong language he used in that comment, slamming the team’s treatment of players, I’m not sure the tear in the relationship can be mended at this point. The Patriots may very well have to trade Logan Mankins or risk him becoming a malcontent in a locker room that they have worked hard on cleaning up this offseason.
I like Logan Mankins a lot. I think he’s the best player on the offensive line and he certainly deserves a significant long-term deal. I also think that he was offered one. I was surprised that he attacked the team like that in public and gave details about the negotiations, a big no-no with the Pats. With the RFA tender already being lowered, things are getting tense as both sides are taking hard lines. They certainly can negotiate a larger one-year deal, but after Makins’ comments, I’m not sure the team will offer that. Things should come to a head very shortly on this matter.