It has been a whirlwind day for the NFL, its franchises and of course its fans. The lockout has been lifted, and teams have been busy all day making cuts—some surprising—that will take effect Friday.
None of the cuts were more disheartening to Patriots fans than the release of arguably our top pass-rusher, outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain.
With every dark cloud, there is a silver lining. For the Patriots, it's the news that offensive lineman Logan Mankins has agreed to sign the Patriots franchise tag tender. Not only is Mankins going to sign his tender, he has made a commitment to report to camp on time.
This is a stark contrast for Mankins, who held out last year hoping for a long-term contract extension. Mankins' holdout ended up working against him however, as two months after the restricted free-agent signing period the Patriots were able to lower their original offer to Mankins. The highest offer they could give of $3.26 million went down to 110 percent of his prior year's salary at $1.54 million.
In response, Mankins publicly asked for a trade from the organization. Mankins would go on to miss over half of the season, all the while drawing the ire of the Patriot fanbase for his "me first" attitude and seeming lack of team dedication. Despite Mankins' abbreviated season, he would go on to be elected as a Pro Bowl starter for the second straight season.
That's what makes today's news so intriguing. Is Mankins perhaps trying a different tactic in his quest to sign a long-term contract?
We've seen countless times players who will hold out, demand a trade or threaten retirement to try and strong-arm their organization to give into their monetary and contractual demands. Perhaps Mankins, who has already tried and failed at that tactic, is going the "just doin' my job" route and is hoping that his hard work, dedication and new team-first attitude will be rewarded with a long-term deal before the September 20th deadline.
I, for one, find myself as Logan Mankins' biggest supporter all of a sudden. After last year, I had completely sworn off Mankins for his selfishness. I was content with the platoon of Connolly and Kaczur, and thought they filled in well for Mankins in his absence.
I would be remiss and highly incorrect if I were to suggest that Mankins is not vital to the New England Patriots' success.
Mankins, in a lot of ways, is Brady's lifeline.
In 2009, he was invaluable in his position as he started every game for the Patriots and protected Tom Brady to just 16 sacks all season. He helped turn BenJarvus Jeremy Green-Ellis into a 1,000-yard rusher this past season. He's a three-time Pro Bowler, two-time starter and two-time All-Pro.
Here's to Mr. Kraft and the Patriots organization recognizing his talents, and most of all, his change of attitude and rewarding him with a long-term deal so we can continue having the security of one of the best linemen in the game today.