FOXBORO, Mass. — The mood of the New England Patriots locker room was down on Tuesday with one of the team’s captains on his way to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Patriots’ players were clearly affected by the news that starting left guard Logan Mankins was traded to the Buccaneers for a fourth-round draft pick and tight end Tim Wright.
“We understand it’s a business, and we understand that we’re here to play football and win football games, but there’s still a human element there that exists,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said Tuesday in the Patriots locker room. “We have to deal with that human element as best we can. Obviously many of us are good friends with him and his family. We understand it’s a business for us all, and we have to continue to try to go out and produce and go out and play good football.”
Mankins was drafted No. 32 overall in the 2005 NFL draft and was named to six Pro Bowls and five All-Pro teams in his nine years with the Patriots. He was a 16-game starter as a rookie and missed just 14 games during his time in New England, even playing through a torn ACL in 2011.
“It is what it is. He’s always been a great teammate, great captain, great guy to learn from in the locker room,” a downcast Julian Edelman said of Mankins. “It’s the business part of the game. It’s hard sometimes, but it is what it is. I wish him the best — him and his family. They’ve been great to me in my career. I just wish him the best.”
Practice wasn’t the same for the Patriots after head coach Bill Belichick announced to the team that Mankins had been traded. The move is reminiscent of when safety Lawyer Milloy was released on Sept. 2, 2003 after refusing a pay cut. The Patriots won the Super Bowl that season despite a brief divide in the locker room.
“The atmosphere was a little down today about what happened today with Logan,” cornerback Darrelle Revis said about practice. “But at the same time, you’ve gotta go out there and do our jobs. It’s very sad. He’s been here for a long time. I got a lot of respect for him from playing against him in the past. He’s a class act, and that’s how the business goes, and I wish him the best. I wish that we wouldn’t even be talking about this at this point, but it is what it is. I wish him the best.”
A move like this is surprising but not shocking when it comes to the Patriots. Belichick is adamant to do what’s best for the team, even if it upsets a few players. Mankins was due $6.25 million in 2014 with a steep $10.5 million cap hit.
“I’ve seen a lot of stuff like that, so nothing’s really shocking here,” Edelman said about the Mankins trade.
The Patriots have nearly two weeks to digest the news before the start of the season against the Miami Dolphins, and they must move on. The Patriots have a glaring hole in the middle of their offensive line, and players like left tackle Nate Solder have to step up, both on and off the field.
“I can’t say enough good things about him — him and his family,” Solder said about Mankins. “They’ve got great morals, great ethics, great work ethic. Tremendous guy, he’s going to be great wherever he goes. For the Patriots, we move on. As sad as that is, it’s exciting too. The thrills of the season.”