Logan Mankins is changing addresses, to the surprise of many.
The Boston Globe is reporting Mankins, who has been with the Patriots since he was drafted in the fifth round out of Fresno State, has been traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday for tight end Tim Wright and a fourth-round draft pick in 2015.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick released the following statement;
In a statement, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, “Logan Mankins is everything we would ever want in a football player. It is hard to imagine a better player at his position, a tougher competitor or a person to represent our program. He is one of the all-time great Patriots and the best guard I ever coached.”
“Logan brought a quiet but unmistakable presence and leadership that will be impossible to duplicate. Unfortunately, this is the time of year when difficult decisions have to be made — and this is one of the most difficult we will ever make — but like every other decision, it was made for what we feel is in the best interests of the team.”
Mankins had the third-longest tenure with the Patriots until the trade, following Tom Brady (14 years) and Vince Wilfork (10 years). Wright, 24, is a product of Rutgers, and Belichick has recently shown a penchant for signing Rutgers players.
The NFL is reporting that though Mankins is on the downside of his career, he will definitely bolster Tampa Bay’s porous offensive line. The Buccaneers hope that Mankins can lead the offensive line since the departure of Carl Nicks (retirement), The trade speaks more to how the Patriots feel about Mankins for 2015. Getting a fourth-round draft pick, and relieving themselves of almost $9.6 million in salary cap room (Tampa Bay takes over Mankins’ $10 million contract, the Patriots take over Wright’s $498,333 contract), seems to show the Patriots are maneuvering to rebuild Mankins’ part of the line.
The Patriots do have Marcus Cannon, Josh Kline, Jordan Devey, and rookie Jon Halapio are the candidates to play left guard, though who specifically is still unknown. Most experts are leaning towards Cannon, a fourth-year lineman that the Patriots may want to get into the lineup now.
The biggest question in the trade is Wright. He was reportedly not even a lock to make the Buccaneers‘ roster as recently as a week ago when coach Lovie Smith called him out publicly. Wright is a talented “move” tight end that can line up as a receiver out of the slot. He adds another weapon to a thin tight end group in New England, but he’s ultimately a role player.