And not the fun, party kind of limbo. Guard Logan Mankins is sitting without a long term contract. Regarded as one of the best left guards in football, and possibly the best left guard in the AFC, there are many reasons as to why Mankins should resigned with a long term deal. He's only 28 years old, which means that the New England Patriots would do well to sign him to a 4 or 5 year deal. The real question is "how much?"
Let's look at what Mankins brings to the table.
1) He's been in the league for a possible 80 games. He's started 80 of those games, which means that he has been a durable starter for 5 years. Looking at our offensive line, as of late, injury has been one of the greatest X factors in terms of team production. Usually, it can be expected that 3 of our O-Line starters will go down at some point in the season; most likely Stephen Neal and Matt Light are two of them. The fact that Mankins, who plays a valuable offensive line position, hasn't missed a single game? That's impressive.
2) He's a beast. He's one of the best guards in the game and has been selected twice to the Pro Bowl and once as an NFL All-Pro.
3) He's an integral part of our offense, that needs to stick together for continuity's sake. The Patriots have suffered from high turnover and have shown a commitment this off-season of awarding deserving players (Leigh Bodden, Vince Wilfork) and getting rid of the bad eggs (Adalius Thomas). Mankins has done everything right.
4) He's basically irreplaceable. I know that there is no "untouchable" Patriot, except for Gisele, but who on the roster, or on the streets, would be able to step into Mankins role on offense and have a Pro Bowl caliber season? I don't see anyone.
More discussion after the jump!
The only real reason I can see the Patriots not having signed Mankins to a long term deal is because there are other contracts to look after. After spending so much money on free agents (other than Mankins), running through the draft and looking after new players, the Patriots clearly need to re-assess their position in terms of a team enforced salary cap, as well as future contracts (Mr. Tom Brady).
Now Patriots owner Robert Kraft has said himself that he hopes to see Mankins with a long term offer sometime soon:
"Our people are working on that," Kraft said with respect to a new deal. "I really hope Logan will be with us for the long-term. That is our objective."
The question is just when- and for how much.
Over at the Boston Globe, they compiled a list of recent top guard contracts in the past couple of years to gauge where Mankins should fall. I believe he should be towards the top.
Jahri Evans, Saints (2010): 7 years, $56.7 million, $19 million guaranteed
Alan Faneca, Jets (2008): 4 years, $32 million, $23 million guaranteed
Eric Steinbach, Browns (2008): 7 years, $49.5 million, $17 million guaranteed
Leonard Davis, Cowboys (2007): 7 years, $49.6 million, $18.75 million guaranteed
Kris Dielman, Chargers (2007): 6 years, $39 million, $17 million guaranteed
Derrick Dockery, Bills (2007): 7 years, $49 million, $18.5 million guaranteed
Steve Hutchinson, Vikings (2006): 7 years, $49 million, $16 million guaranteed
Now I don't think the Patriots should pay players according to other franchises, but I do think they should pay their players fairly- and I believe that the players on the list have relatively fair deals.
Currently, Mankins has been tendered for a one year, $3.268 million contract, which is both well under his market value and well under his time frame goal. If he doesn't sign the tender by June 15th, the tender will drop to $1.54 million- even further away from the goal.
I think that Mankins contract will be put off until after the Patriots begin to cut players from the roster. The Patriots still need to sign all of the rookies to contracts and I believe that they are the #1 priority, as of now. Once the roster is trimmed and the rookies are under salary control, I think that Mankins will get his 5 year, $38 million contract to keep him as a Patriot for years to come.