Rick: The Logan Mankins trade was a move that i questioned at first, especially with the leadership that Mankins can bring to the locker room. But, at the same time, the Patriots drafted a lot of offensive lineman back in May and they are famous for getting rid of veterans a year earlier than usual, whether it is Richard Seymour or even Lawyer Milloy back in 2003. Mankins is 32 years old, but he still brought some stability on the offensive line. That being said, the O-Line did allow plenty of sacks last season. I liked the return New England got back with a fourth round pick and tight end Tim Wright. Wright gives the Patriots another weapon for Tom Brady and the 24-year-old tight end is capable of big performances such as the ones he had last year against the Seahawks and 49ers.
Raj: At first I was shocked. No one saw it coming. I didn’t, you didn’t, even Skip Bayless didn’t. So at first thought, I was upset because after hearing about how mad Tom Brady was, I couldn’t help but wonder why. The Patriots offensive line needed a guy like Mankins. Then I realized they made the right move. Mankins is still a force but he’s also 32 years old with a big salary. I’m sure he can still play and be dominant but the Patriots need to think about the future. Signing guys like Revis (if he plays up to his hype, which I’m sure he will), McCourty, Vereen, etc. longterm is a priority. With Mankins’ salary, they would not have the ability to sign all the others longterm. Now they can. In addition, they got Tim Wright, who I’ve seen excel at Rutgers. I like that he’s physical and protects the ball well, just like Hernandez didIt should be no surprise that Belichick favors players from my school and the ones he gets are usually great players. Take a look at McCourty, Ryan, and Harmon. 3 guys who when initially drafted, no one had a clue how good they would be for the Pats (except maybe Rutgers students/fans). But now they’re some of the better defensive players on this New England team. Similarly, while it won’t happen immediately, Tim Wright can contribute great things to the Patriots offense. We saw signs of it in the last preseason game against the giants, we will certainly see more than that in the season. Gronk said he was ready to play week 1 but if he’s still not looking a 100%, look for Wright to play a key role.
Derek: Long-term, I think this move is a no-brainer. Mankins, while still a solid lineman and clearly a great “Patriot”, is simply not the dominant player he once was. His cap hits in subsequent seasons were going to be huge and not in line with the performance that the team was likely to see on the field. If Revis gets re-signed, and McCourty and Solder are extended and the Pats remain financially flexible, we will all look back on this move as a good one. The big question mark on this trade is in the short term. Heading into the season, I would have categorized the offensive line as the team’s biggest area of concern. Dante Scarnecchia’s retirement is bound to have some effect on the continuity of that unit, and the O-line was already hurting from it’s dreadful performance in the AFC Championship Game. Heading into a season where a Super Bowl is a real possibility, and with Brady not getting any younger, Belichick just traded away one of the cornerstones of that questionable unit. I think one can argue that Mankins had lost a step and the drop off between him and his replacement may not be all that tremendous at the end of the day. Still, if the offensive line gets mauled again in the AFC Championship, or the Super Bowl, and the Patriots are sent home packing without the Lombardi, this move will be a tough one for Bill to live down.