If you're like most Patriots fans, you're probably scratching your head, wondering why the Patriots traded All-Pro guard Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Tim Wright and a 4th round pick. Your knee-jerk reaction may have included your jaw hitting the ground and several spouts of profanity. But believe it or not, there are several good reasons the Patriots made this trade.
1. Patriots Liked Tim Wright
Make no doubt about it - the New England Patriots made this trade because they really like Tim Wright. The TE/WR (and yes, Rutgers product), had an outstanding rookie year for the Buccaneers in 2013, recording 54 receptions for 571 yards and five touchdowns. He was pushed down the depth chart in Tampa Bay this training camp due to his poor blocking skills, but could excel in a reduced "Hernandez"-role as a move tight end.
2. Patriots got value for Mankins while they could
Logan Mankins was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Entering his age 33 season, Mankins showed signs of decline in 2013, and likely still would have commanded a big contract in the offseason. The Patriots eliminated the risk of losing him by getting value now.
3. Immediate cap savings
With a prorated signing bonus of about $4 million, the Patriots will have some dead money against their cap this season, but they also freed up some significant money. In fact, they are expected to save about $5.8 million. Expect more deals in the coming days, as well as possible extensions for players scheduled for free agency in 2015, such as safety Devin McCourty.
4. The team had confidence in their offensive line depth
While the interior of their offensive line already had some questions, this move is a vote of confidence in the depth of the grouping as a whole. Bill Belichick knows that this team is ready to compete for a Super Bowl this season, and he wouldn't do anything that would risk the team's contender status. The Patriots now likely start Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell, and Marcus Cannon along the interior. Bryan Stork and Josh Kline should be competitive there as well. You might not have been too confident in those players before this trade, but you now know that Belichick values those players highly.