What was originally reported by ESPN on Monday afternoon was made official later that night, when the New England Patriots put out a statement with the announcement they placed their 2011 franchise tag on OG Logan Mankins.
"Logan Mankins is a tremendous player. He has been a fixture on our offensive line since we drafted him in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft and he remains an important part of our future plans. Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach a long-term agreement, despite many attempts and proposals by both sides. That remains our objective in utilizing the franchise designation and we are hopeful that Logan will be a Patriot for many years to come."
Last season, the Patriots franchised Vince Wilfork, but later removed the tag the two sides agreed to a long-term contract extension. Mankins is expected to earn $10.1 million in 2011 (assuming there is a season).
Well, the franchise tag could be meaningless, depending on the new collective bargaining agreement. But let's assume there is a 2011 season, and the franchise tag remains at least relatively unchanged. So, do the Patriots let him play out the franchise year, or do they try to sign him to an extension? Pats Pulpit says "the Patriots would be wise to have Mankins around for next year and the foreseeable future."
While the Patriots are very good at drafting and developing offensive linemen, some of who can come in and be key contributors/starters immediately (examples: Mankins, Matt Light, Nick Kaczur, Sebastian Vollmer), drafting is never an exact science. There are plenty of top picks that do not pan out. You can never guarantee a rookie to be a starter. I can also easily imagine a scenario where Stephen Neal retires and Matt Light departs via free agency. That would leave the Patriots with just Dan Koppen and Sebastian Vollmer as returning starters. That would leave you with a Nick Kaczur, Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell and a slew of draft picks to fill the other three spots on the offensive line (and that's before injuries are even factored in!). Having to rely on two or three rookies and/or relatively inexperienced player (such as Wendell or Rich Ohrnberger) to play significant roles or perhaps start won't be good for the Patriots. I have even mentioned the fact that Dan Koppen is an unrestricted free agent after the 2011 season.