Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins told the Boston Herald on Friday that he thinks "the door is totally shut" on a return to the Patriots. Mankins, a free agent who sat out the first seven games of last season in protest, said the Patriots haven't approached him about a new contract, and he'd be peeved if they decided to use the franchise tag on him.
This now marks the second consecutive offseason that Mankins has started a public battle with the organization that selected him in the first round of the 2005 draft. When he reported to the Patriots during the regular season, he said he didn't accomplish everything he hoped by sitting out, but he never again spoke poorly of the organization.
This has got to make for an awkward week in Honolulu, where Mankins, six Patriots teammates and Bill Belichick's coaching staff are preparing for the Pro Bowl. Apparently, Belichick hasn't used this time to convince Mankins to remain in New England.
It would be a mistake for the Patriots to let Mankins walk away. Clearly, they had enough respect for his game to start him in Week 9 against the Browns after practicing just three times, and Mankins was voted as a Pro Bowl starter by his peers despite his limited playing time in 2010.
Without Mankins, the Patriots would likely use Dan Connolly at left guard next season, and that would increase the importance of Stephen Neal's decision about his future. Neal, the team's starting right guard, has one year left on his contract and has hinted that a string of injuries could cause him to retire. Without Mankins or Neal, Ryan Wendell would be the current starter at right guard.
There's no telling where Mankins would wind up, but the Patriots would have to fear one possibility. The Jets, who might have the best offensive line in the NFL, might be intrigued at the prospects of upgrading their left guard position, which was the closest thing to a weak spot they had up front this season.
Of course, the Patriots could end all of that speculation by locking up their best offensive lineman to a long-term contract. As of Friday, though, those chances look grim.
Should the Patriots re-sign Logan Mankins? Leave your thoughts below.
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