Bill Belichick has never been sentimental. In his position, you can’t afford to be.
So while the trade of left guard Logan Mankins – a six-time Pro Bowl selection -from the New England Patriots to Tampa Bay for second-year tight end Tim Wright was stunning on Tuesday, it probably shouldn’t have been surprising.
The Patriots need a tight end who can play in the slot and stretch the field. Wright, a former Rutgers player, can do that. As a rookie he caught 54 passes for 571 yards and five touchdowns.
Mankins? Well, he’s 32 and has a big contract. While the Patriots love his toughness – he played the entire 2011 season on a torn ACL – football has always been a business first with them.
Belichick said as much in a press release in which he praised Mankins for everything he did in his nine years with the Patriots:
“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.”
What does this mean for New England?
Well, Tom Brady has another weapon in Wright, who will complement Rob Gronkowski.
But it leaves holes in the interior of the line, which was suspect last year. It could signify the Patriots have great faith in their young linemen, particularly Jordan Devey – who has played much of the preseason at right guard – and Josh Kline. Marcus Cannon, a fourth-year pro, could also take over Mankin’s position.
For a good analysis of the trade, you should read this piece by Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com.
In other news, several media outlets in the Boston area have noted that the Patriots cut former UMaine wide receiver Derrick Johnson. In three preseason games, he caught two passes for 39 yards.