If you haven’t heard by now, the New England Patriots have traded Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in exchange for tight end Tim Wright, and a fourth-round draft pick. Everybody else has put in their two cents, so now I want to chime in.
The basic idea of this trade was to dump Mankins’ salary, add a quality younger player at a weak position, and get some value for a player in Mankins that would have definitely been gone after this season. By trading Mankins, the Patriots will be saving more than $13 million over the next two years, as per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. Mankins was scheduled to make $6.5 million this season, which would have been way too much for what used to be an elite player.
I love Mankins as much as the next guy, but we have to face facts. He is not what he used to be. In run blocking, he can hold up just fine, but it is obvious that he struggles in pass protection. Mankins gave up 11 sacks in 18 games played last year, which is just not acceptable for someone making that kind of money. Bill Belichick will never allow a veteran’s salary to march over his level of play, and once it does, that veteran will be gone fairly quickly.
For those that are concerned about who will help protect Brady’s blind-side now that Mankins is gone, I understand your fears. But the Patriots have a lot of young, talented offensive lineman available, and while Brady may face a little more pressure than usual, I don’t think it will be enough to derail New England’s ultimate goal. Whether it is Marcus Cannon finally starting on the inside, or Dan Connolly flipping over to the left side, or even Josh Kline getting the starting nod, the Pats will be just fine in that area.
Now to the newest member of the Patriots, Tim Wright. He certainly isn’t Aaron Hernandez, but man this kid has some talent. As a rookie (in Tampa Bay’s offense as well), he reeled in 54 receptions for 571 yards, and five touchdowns. Not bad at all. For a rookie, playing on the worst passing offense in the league, that is a damn fine season.
Wright is a small tight end, as he stands at 6’4, but weighs in at only 220 pounds, but he more than makes up for it with his impressive speed, agility, and catch radius. This move was made to gain some depth at the tight end spot, but in a different way than we all expected. Wright won’t be backing up Rob Gronkowski. But rather, he will play in Aaron Hernandez’s old spot, as the “move” tight end. He will act more as a receiver than a traditional tight end, and with his size and skill-set, that is the best thing for him, and the Patriots.
Despite adding Brandon LaFell this offseason, the Patriots still lacked a bit of size in the receiving corps. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are fine wideouts, but they are extremely small. Trading for Wright gives Brady more size, a better chance of stretching the field, and even more mismatches with the linebackers and safeties. Wright will make an already lethal passing attack even more unstoppable.
As an additional bonus, that money freed up from Mankins’ contract could potentially be put to good use. Maybe re-signing a certain Darrelle Revis.