2011 NFL Free Agents: The Patriots Best Offseason Move May Not Be What You Think

Andrew McCluskeyCorrespondent IAugust 30, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 20:  Logan Mankins #70 of the New England Patriots against the New York Jets at Giants Stadium on September 20, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

With the NFL lockout causing such a short offseason, there was quite the whirlwind of moves made over the course of just a few weeks.

The New England Patriots made their splash by trading for Chad Ochocinco from the Cincinnati Bengals and Albert Hanyesworth from the Washington Redskins. Several other acquisitions such as Andre Carter and Shaun Ellis also made headlines, but weren't earth shattering.

However, one of the moves that seems to be flying under the radar is the importance of resigning guard Logan Mankins.

Mankins is a two-time All-Pro and a three-time Pro Bowl selection. Over the course of his six-year career he has never missed a game due to injury. The only games he missed were during his hold out last season.

There was drama and mud slinging on both sides of the Mankins negotiations. Mankins had said that he felt the Patriots weren't being honest during the negotiations. However, just this month Mankins said that he holds no grudge towards Bob Kraft.

Talks were held up in 2010 after Kraft demanded an apology from Mankins over those comments. He never did receive that apology.

The real situation was simply that the two sides that weren't willing to back down. Mankins wanted to be paid like the top guard that he is and the Patriots general philosophy is to only pay those who are necessary. 

Now all of that is settled after they agreed on a six-year, $51 million deal that goes until 2016, making Mankins the highest paid guard in the NFL.

Rightfully so. Mankins has been one of the keys to that offensive line since he was drafted by the Patriots. Plus, he has one of the most important jobs a Patriots player can have—protecting Tom Brady.

As the Patriots learned in the 2007 Super Bowl against the Giants, if Tom Brady isn't upright and throwing the ball then they aren't going to put up many points.

With the current transition that the Patriots line is going through with younger talent coming in and the old guard heading out the door, it is going to be important to have some consistency. Mankins will be just that.

While you are never going to see any guards making the ESPN highlight reels or winning any MVP awards, never doubt the importance of a great offensive linemen.

The Patriots recognized this, which is the main reason why Logan Mankins will be lining up in Patriots blue this season.

It may not be their flashiest move, but it is certainly their best move of the 2011 offseason.