The New England Patriots wrapped up the third and final practice of their three-day mandatory minicamp on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium in Foxboro Massachusetts on Thursday June 17th. While there are plenty of positive stories coming out of the Patriots camp, most notably the incredible progress of wide receiver Wes Welker recovering from a torn left ACL and MCL, the black cloud hanging over the Patriots offseason is the Logan Mankins situation.
Disgruntled left guard Logan Mankins was absent from the Patriots mandatory minicamp for all three practices, and the prospect of a lengthy holdout appears likely. On a small side note, left tackle Matt Light missed the final day of minicamp, but there doesn’t appear to be any issue there.
According to Patriots Football Weekly’s Blog: “With Light and Mankins not in action, Dan Koppen was in the middle of an offensive line group that included Sebastian Vollmer at left tackle, Dan Connolly at left guard, Stephen Neal at right guard and Nick Kaczur at right tackle. Mark LeVoir seemed to get some good reps at left tackle. And Rich Ohrnberger got some rotational reps at both center and guard. It’s the third straight day of mini-camp that those rotational reps seemed to go to a different guy, following days with Connolly and Ryan Wendell moving around a bit. Although today’s reps could obviously have been affected by the absence of both Light and Mankins.”
In the event that Logan Mankins is not in a Patriots uniform this season, the most likely scenario is that right tackle Nick Kaczur will replace Mankins at left guard, and sophomore standout Sebastian Vollmer will slide into Kaczur’s vacated right tackle position. Before the Patriots get acclimated to life without Mankins, lets recap the situation between the two-time Pro Bowl guard and the New England front office.
“At this point, I’m pretty frustrated, from everything that’s happened and the way negotiations have gone,” Mankins said in a phone interview with ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss on June 14th.
“I want to be traded. I don’t need to be here any more … there is no way that I’m signing that [$3.26 million tender offer]. After the 2008 season, my agent [Frank Bauer] and I approached the Patriots about an extension and I was told that [Patriots owner Robert] Kraft did not want to do an extension because of the [uncertain collective bargaining agreement]. 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.
“That’s the big thing,” Mankins continued. “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.”
Monday June 14th (the day before mandatory minicamp practices began) was the deadline for Mankins (a restricted free agent) to sign his qualifying offer from the Patriots of $3.27 million. At midnight, as allowed by NFL rules, the Patriots reduced their offer to $1.54 million, a mere 10 percent raise over last year’s salary.
Basically, Mankins has called into question owner Robert Kraft’s ethics when he claimed the team went back on its word with regard to dealing with his contract extension. Mankins comments appear to be a serious error in judgment on his part, unless he truly does not want to be a part of the Patriots organization anymore.
The big question now is what exactly does Logan Mankins want? Is it Jahri Evans type money (7 years $56.7 million) or nothing? Neither Mankins nor Bauer have yet to suggest a counter offer after flat out rejecting the Patriots long-term contract offer, which The Boston Globe reported that, according to a league source, the Patriots’ last offer to Mankins was worth approximately $7 million per season. The offer by the Patriots would have put Mankins among the top five highest paid guards in the NFL. The Patriots have done their part to offer Mankins a long-term contract. The Patriots have made a substantial contract offer; however Mankins disagrees. Since Mankins failed to show up at mandatory minicamp, the Patriots have pulled their long-term offer from the negotiating table.
The level of public anger Mankins has expressed towards the Patriots front office during this process has been both unforeseen and shocking. If he still wants to be part of the Patriots organization there are things he can do to make that happen. First and foremost, he needs to apologize to owner Robert Kraft, the man responsible for paying his salary. Guards are not irreplaceable, Nick Kaczur and Dan Connolly aren’t Logan Mankins, but is the difference so great that it will cost the Patriots games? If Mankins doesn’t take steps to repair the damage done by his words, then it is extremely likely that Mankins will be traded. Mankins will likely receive a new contract extension elsewhere, while the Patriots will seek a first round pick in return