It takes a solid story to break me away from my off-season hiatus here at Foxboro Blog. As much as I love all the draft discussion and hearing about training camp, there's just too much going on with Bloguin to post regularly about that stuff. As we've all learned by now, all the off-season hype in the world doesn't mean a thing come Week 1. So it's my preference for the time being to make this blog a regular-season affair. However, when something truly newsworthy happens with the Pats over the spring and summer, I'm here.
And as most of you already know, something newsworthy did happen regarding the already-heated Logan Mankins contract negotiations. The Patriots top guard would have been an unrestricted free-agent this summer under the old collective bargaining agreement. However, due to the fact that the NFL is currently operating under the final "uncapped" year allowed in its labor contract with the NFLPA, Mankins, along with many other players (including the Patriots' own Stephen Gostkowski), have been relegated to being merely restricted free-agents. This means that instead of Mankins being able to play the field and take the highest offer he could garner from the league's 32 teams, the Patriots were able to place a "tender" on him which severely reduced the number ot teams who were willing to offer him a contract (a.k.a. Zero). Since Mankins is a Pro-Bowler and the best guard on the team, New England intelligently opted to place the absolute highest tender that they could on him. This means any team that Mankins signs with would not only have to pay his fat contract, but they'd also be forced to surrender a 1st and 3rd round draft choice to the Pats. Needless to say, that's a fairly high price to pay for a free-agent. Unless your name happens to be Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, no team in their right mind is going to sign you with that type of tender.
In return for the tender, Mankins was entitled to recieve $3.26 million to play for the Patriots this season. Not chump change, but well below what he would've earned on the open market had he not had the poor luck of hitting free agency the exact year that the rules changed. For quite some time now, Mankins and the Patriots have been working toward a more long-term deal. Reports are that the Patriots have offered Mankins a 5-year extension worth roughly $7 million per year over the life of the contract. Further terms aren't known such as signing bonuses, salary structure, and whether the contract started immediately or after this lower-paying $3.26 million year. At any rate, $7 million-ish per year is certainly nothing to scoff at, especially considering that the Patriots also had names like Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, and Randy Moss due for contracts this off-season and the next. Yet Mankins is apparently furious about the contract offer...
"At this point, I'm pretty frustrated, from everything that's happened and the way negotiations have gone. I want to be traded. I don't need to be here any more."
"After the 2008 season, me and my agent approached the Patriots about an extension and I was told that Mr. 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. 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."
And regarding the tender that he's supposed to sign for this season, a tender that can now be reduced to $1.54 million due to Mankin's delay in signing...
"There is no way that I'm signing that thing."
So after a 2009 season in which the Patriots were plagued by poor locker room chemistry, and a 2010 off-season where it seems that most of those problems have been addressed, New England fans now have this turd in their punch bowl to deal with. Look, I get that Mankins and all those other would-be unrestricted free-agents are getting the short end of the stick due to the CBA coming to an end, but I think Mankins needs to take some of his own advice, keep his word, and grow up.
#1 - It isn't the Patriots' fault that Mankins finds himself in this situation. It's his players union's fault. They were the ones that agreed to the stipulation in the labor contract that would extend the amount of time needed to be an unrestricted free-agent. Mankins and all these other players want the benefits that come with being in the union. On the flip side, they also need to abide by the concessions that their union makes when striking these deals. Mankins' anger is directed in the wrong place.
#2 - Mankins is whining that New Orleans' Jahri Evans received a contract that was 20% higher than what New England is offering. Guess what Logan? You don't play for the Saints! Just because New Orleans wants to shell out that kind of cash, doesn't mean the Patriots have to. When you're an unrestricted free-agent, you can try to get that much money from the Saints or whatever team you'd like, but right now you're restricted and nobody but New England is even offering you a cent.
#3 - Mankins is bitter that that Patriots didn't want to extend his contract last summer. He felt he was playing at an "undervalued" contract last season. Again, it's not the Patriots fault that Mankins signed a contract through the 2009 season. If he didn't like what he was going to be paid in 2009, then he shouldn't have signed the deal! Mankins may have played well and earned every dollar, but let's say that he didn't. Had he broken his leg during the '09 pre-season would he be offering to refund some of his 2009 earnings to New England? I don't think so. It's a two-way street and Mankins is getting aggravated about oncoming traffic.
#4 - Mankins is calling out Robert Kraft and the organization for not being true to their word. According to him, Kraft told him that the contract would be worked out during the uncapped year, which is this year. Isn't that what's happening? Isn't offering a $7 million per year contract trying to work it out?
Now Mankins is refusing to sign is tender, is not reporting for any activities, and is demanding a trade. Personally, I hope the Patriots grant his wishes and get this malcontent off of our roster. If they don't, he'll just end up signing the $1.54 million tender in Week 10, thereby establishing his eligibility for unrestricted free-agency next off-season and causing us to lose him for nothing. Truth is, I doubt anyone will offer him more than the $7 million that the Patriots have after these shenanigans. In the end, I predict the net result of this tirade is that Mankins will lose out on roughly $1.7 million this season and even more in the future.
Serves him right.