If you could only sign: A) Logan Mankins for $8 million/year or more for 6 years, or B) Matt Light for $4 million/year or less for 2 years, which contract would you choose?
Stephen: This is a tough call – Mankins is easily the Patriots’ best offensive lineman, and is a top-3 guard in the league. However, it is simply too cost prohibitive to sign him for left tackle-type money at $8 million or more a year. Light is still a serviceable player who should come back for a manageable salary. If they let Mankins go, they absolutely need to invest at least one, if not two, high draft picks on an interior lineman. Light could be a holdover while the team grooms another tackle for the future – whether it be Sebastian Vollmer going to the left side or an early-round draft pick.
Rick: I would sign Matt Light at the smaller deal. This gives me more flexibility at the other positions to improve other positions. Mankins’ loss was not as big as originally thought because Brady had a clean jersey for most of the game that Mankins held out of. Light plays a key position in football that protects the quarterback’s blindside. Yes, Vollmer can play the position, but Light is consistently a pro bowler and a team player that will take any price the Patriots set in order to build a championship team.
Jason: While I would love to see Mankins in a Patriots uniform for the remainder of his playing days, $8 million a year is a steep price to pay for a guard. That’s offensive tackle money, and that cap space would be better spent in 2-3 years to lock up a younger player like Sebastian Vollmer if he continues to develop into an upper-tier tackle. Light is serviceable and cheap, which probably meshes better with New England’s needs right now. The Pats are almost certain to draft an offensive lineman (or two) early in this year’s draft, and a blue-chip prospect would go a long way towards reducing the need to pay big money for Mankins.
Derek: I’d like to see the Patriots lock-up Mankins long-term and bring back Light, but if it could only be one or the other, then it has to be Matt Light. The Patriots have enough picks to fill up the interior line, so it just makes more financial sense to sign Light to the cheaper deal. Mankins is one of the best in the league at his position, but a guard shouldn’t be making left-tackle money. That $8 million per year could be much better spent grooming players at other positions of greater impact.
Sorry, Logan, you just got swept 4-0.