Pro Bowl practices have been taking place all week, and players have been open to the media, more so than normal if you’re a Patriot. With the added access, the Boston Herald has been sticking close to the soon-to-be free agent guard Logan Mankins. Mankins is the highest-profile free agent the Patriots have this coming offseason, and he is already coming off an offseason of controversy. Mankins held out last offseason, not participating in any mini-camps or training camp, and continued his holdout through the first 8 weeks of the regular season. However, despite holding out, he has been named to the Pro Bowl and has been named an All Pro. Those honors show the amount of respect and esteem he is held in throughout the league. Mankins spoke about his future with the Patriots and possibly beyond.
Earlier in the week, Mankins told the Herald’s Karen Guregian that he was open to returning to New England, saying that they are in the mix (along with the other 31 teams).
“Oh yeah,” Mankins said when asked about re-signing with the Patriots. “There are 32 teams in play. Whatever one I feel is the best situation for me. There’s always a possibility (to return to the Patriots). But to tell you the truth, I haven’t given it much thought right now. If there was a CBA, I’m sure I’d be thinking about it a lot more.’’
Then today, he took a more negative tone in regards to returning to New England.
“I would never say the door is totally shut,’’ Mankins said. “But the way it’s looking right now, I don’t see it happening. I don’t see them trying to keep me, unless it’s with the franchise tag.’’
And that franchise tag, provided it is still available should a new CBA be in place before free agency, would not be a welcome thing should the Pats slap Mankins with it.
“No, I wouldn’t be happy about that, if that’s what they chose to do, to be dealt that kind of hand,’’ he said in regards to the Patriots’ use of the franchise tag. “But we’ll see what happens.’’
If the Patriots do go that route, consider Mankins gone. I see no way that he suits up for the Patriots ever again if he is franchised. If the two sides cannot reach an agreement before the tag becomes unavailable, bank on the Pats using it. They’re not going to let a player of Mankins’ caliber go for nothing, and I don’t blame them. Without Mankins, there will need to be some serious retooling of the offensive line, more so than what is already expected. The most logical way to do that would be with draft picks, so franchising and trading Mankins is the most logical step if they cannot reach an agreement. Either way, it seems as though this offseason will have no shortage of storylines, just like last year.