As the NFL lockout seemingly comes to an end, the two biggest things on the minds of Patriots fans are the pass rush and whether or not the Pats will be able to sign Logan Mankins to a long-term deal. No matter where you look, the consensus opinion on Mankins is pretty much uniform: sign him ASAP.
It's kind of staggering to me. Why haven't the Krafts opened up their checkbooks to keep Logan Mankins around?
The team doesn't feel a sense of urgency. They think they hold all the cards and as of right now there are no competitors for Mankins' services. No doubt some bad blood and bitterness is still there after Mankins ripped Bob Kraft to shreds last year.
Perhaps the team looks at guards as interchangeable parts who can easily be replaced. If that's the case then I can see why they would think that. In 2001 their guards were Joe Andruzzi and Mike Compton. Andruzzi was an undrafted rookie free agent and Compton was picked up after Detroit decided they didn't want him.
The "guards are easy to replace and there's a large supply of them" school of thought is fair, but the team is making a mistake if they let Logan Mankins walk. By the time he retires he'll be in Canton and rightfully considered the second best guard in team history after John Hannah.
According to pro-football-reference.com, after five years in the league Logan Mankins is similar to Stan Jones, Joe Jacoby, Gary Zimmerman and Gene Upshaw. Jones, Zimmerman and Upshaw are in the Hall of Fame. Sure gives you an idea of how good Mankins is, right?
Imagine if you're in Nick Caserio's shoes. Ideally you pay a player based on how well he'll perform in the future. Let's run through a personnel checklist on Logan Mankins and see where we stand.
Is he too old to invest in? No. He is still only 29 years old. If he were 35 I would understand letting him go, but he's not.
Does he have any injuries that are red flags? No. It's not as if he's had injuries that can be chronic and/or career threatening like Al Toon's concussions or Bo Jackson's hip injury.
Can you count on him to be durable? HELL YEAH! In six years Mankins has played in 89 out of 96 possible games and shows no signs of breaking down. The only games he missed were due to his holdout. He wasn't nursing an injury he could have played through or had trouble executing the Patriots offense.
Are there any glaring holes in his game? Not really. His run blocking skill is amazing. Watching him punish defensive lineman who get in his way is a thrill. In 2008 Mankins paved the way for the Pats running backs to rush for 2,278 yards and 21 touchdowns on 513 carries. Break it down on a game by game basis and the Patriots had 32 carries 142.4 yards 4.4 yards per carry and 1.3 touchdowns.
Pass protection isn't a big flaw either. In 2007 he was credited with giving up just one sack all year. Two years later he was a part of an offensive line where Tom Brady was sacked just 16 times.
Is he the cream of the crop? YES. As Tony Santorsa reported in his column, Mankins has given up an average of 2.5 sacks annually over six seasons. No statistic can ever measure how much peace of mind a QB can have knowing his left side is protected, but that degree of confidence is priceless. Does Mankins give that to Brady? HELL YEAH!
Does he fit the persona and attitude the Patriots crave? Like Al Bundy used to say, abso-fricking-lutely! With the exception of his venting about his contract last year Mankins has always shown up on time, put his ego aside for the good of the team, worked his bum off, stayed out of trouble and produced on the field.
You can be 100 percent confident Mankins isn't going to kiss and tell about alleged hookups with famous starlets like Bret Lockett or get in trouble with the law like Brandon Meriweather. He won't rip his head coach like Chad Ochocinco or bash his QB like Terrell Owens did to Donovan McNabb.
I'd like to answer the question in the headline: Is there any reason to let Mankins walk?
NOPE! I say lock him up now before another team waves a crazy amount of money in his face and he leaves. Look at the roster and ask who would replace him if he took off. Marcus Cannon is recovering from cancer. Rich Ohrnberger hasn't played much in two years so you don't know if he could play full time. Ryan Wendell has some talent but he's not on Mankins level.
Let's hope Bob Kraft and Frank Bauer can put their differences aside and hammer out a fair deal for both sides.
It's a no-brainer.