Patriots offensive guard Logan Mankins, who was held out for seven games in 2010, received the franchise tag from New England on Feb. 14—Mankins was the first to receive the tag. However, Mankins has yet to sign any contract tenure. With the NFL facing a potential lockout, Mankins will be unable to sign a contract tenure with New England.
Mankins' agent, Frank Bauer, has made it clear that the Patriots have mishandled the contract dispute with his client.
If the Patriots and Mankins don't come to an agreement on a long-term contract, Makins will likely hold out, similar to Deion Branch in 2006, and request a trade.
Assuming Mankins will not return next season (considering that he's in limbo right now), the Patriots, led by Bill Belichick, will have to look towards the draft to address needs; one being the left guard position.
As Mankins' future is unclear and with the retirement of offensive guard Stephen Neal, New England is extremely thin at the offensive guard position.
New England is set up perfectly for the 2011 NFL draft while having nine selections—six being in the top 92, and three being in the top 33.
If the Patriots choose to select an offensive guard early on, Florida's Mike Pouncey is the guy.
Belichick has already met with Pouncey and was impressed with his workout at Florida's pro day. Don't be surprised if New England calls his number on draft day.
Some other possible choices would come in the mid-to-later rounds: Georgia's Clint Boling, TCU's Marcus Cannon, Wisconsin's John Moffitt, Connecticut's Zach Hurd—just to name a few.
I'm not an "expert," but I am a fan with a lot of insight on the NFL, especially the New England Patriots. As of right now, if you'd make me decide if Mankins will be a Patriot in 2011, I'd say definitely not—it's clear that the bridge between Mankins' agent and the Patriots' front office has been burned and ruined, for now.
Belichick and New England's scouting department better be preparing to select an offensive guard somewhere in the 2011 draft; they're going to need one entering the 2011 season.