As I look at the offensive line for the "Who Stays and Who Goes?" series, the questions surrounding Logan Mankins loom larger. The pieces we've been told don't all fit. A contract was offered, 5 years $35 million, though there is no mention of the guaranteed cash or any other details. Mankins says he doesn't like it because it is 20% less than Jahri Evans' deal. Mankins (1st round pick) has been making more money to date than Evans (4th round pick), and Evans is almost universally acclaimed as the better guard right now; the bigger deal was to compensate him for outperforming his status as a fourth round pick. Mankins says he wants to be traded; one would assume to a team that will pay him more. He can't be traded unless he is under contract. He won't sign a contract. It's not likely that you'll find a team that will both: 1) Shell out a 1st or 2nd rounder for Mankins, AND 2) Pay him Jahri Evans money - even Al Davis has been sedated.
Where do we go from here? For the Patriots, absolutely nowhere. At least for now. OTA's are done, the dust has settled from mini-camp, and rookies need to get signed before training camp. Rookie contracts (and maybe a deal for Gostkowski) will be the priority over the next few weeks. Once training camp starts, and more importantly, pads are on, the state of the O-line can be addressed. There is absolutely no pressure on the Pats to do anything with Mankins unless they find glaring weaknesses in the left side of the line. He isn't on the 80 man count because he isn't under contract. He doesn't cost a dime because he isn't under contract. He can sit and spin.
As NFL training camps progress, guys get hurt. If some of those are guards, the demand for stud linemen improves and perhaps a trade for Mankins is worked out. There's normal NFL sanity, and then there's the pressure when your line is broken, you're coaching for your job, and overspending for a guard (as well as burning a draft pick you might not be around to use) makes perfect sense. That is when a Mankins trade might happen.
If the injury bug bites the Pats or the line just sucks, they pay Mankins and everyone is one happy family again. If we make it through the preseason games and nothing has happened with Mankins, then Logan will know that the demand for his services isn't quite what he thought. He may retire and wrestle cows, he may settle for less money and sign, he may play "wait and see" hoping some team has an injury during the season. If he hasn't signed by game 13, he won't get credit for this season. I believe that means that next season basically becomes like this season and it can all start again because the Patriots have his rights still unless he was three games active, on IR, or on PUP.
If he wants to get traded, he needs to sign some form of contract. You can't trade a player that is not under contract. If he wants to get paid at all before game 13, he needs to sign the tender earlier. If he signs the tender, he can be franchised next year and the fiasco starts again. To ward that off, I would expect some sort of a one year contract with a "no franchise" clause based upon certain measurables (like games played), similar to Asante Samuel's last contract. Next year, he would be a free man. If they are still playing football, he would play elsewhere. If not, he won't see a deal until the CBA gets done and football starts again.
As much as I would like to see the sides kiss and make up (figuratively, not literally), I don't see any movement happening on the Pats side until well into training camp. If something happens before that, it would be Mankins making concessions. For all of us on the sidelines, it's "wait and see". I agree that sucks.