By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Logan Mankins Watch 2011 is over.
It's time for the Patriots to ensure there's never another one. With the post-lockout era of good feeling descending around the NFL, it would be appropriate if the Patriots stopped with the platitudes and just paid the man. It's not enough that Bill Belichick andRobert Kraft genuflect at the wonder of Mankins the man, the football player andthe teammate. It's time to walk it like they talk it. If he is so tough, so selfless, so talented, so nasty -- as they say -- and he's on the hook for playing wet nurse to rookie first-rounder Nate Solder . . . give him his money. Not just the 10 million franchise tender. Give him the long-term deal you said he was going to get when the lockout mess ended. Mankins could have made things hard on the Patriots. He could have held out for a while, left the Patriots scrambling at left guard. With Matt Light an unrestricted free agent and Solder, Light's eventualreplacement at left tackle, still finding his way around the stadium, Mankins could have put the whole left side of the offensive line in disarray. Let them suck on some uncertainty. He has chosen not to. Just as he chose not to hold out as long as he could have in 2010 and still gain an accrued season (he reported after week seven, while he could have reported after week 10). Mankins could have been a bigger pain in the posterior as a plaintiff in Brady vs. The NFL like Vincent Jackson. He chose not to. Mankins spoke in May as if he was planning to play football in September. I asked him at Joe Andruzzi's charity golf event if he planned to sign his franchise tender."I don't know," Mankins replied."We have a lot of time. We don't even know if we'll have a season at this point. I'm hoping they get this resolved before the season so we can play football in time."At the time, the fact he referenced actually playing was a good sign. Pressing further, I asked if he thinks about staying beyond 2011. "I think about it every now and then, but I'm not putting any answers out there yet," Mankins answered. "We'll see when we get down that road."It seems like we're on that road now. The Patriots have a window to negotiate a long-term deal with Mankins that closes September 20. Mankins' relationship with Belichick and -- more importantly -- with Kraft seems stronger than it's been in sometime. Bury the hatchet, put it to bed, let bygones be bygones, make it water under the bridge. Pay the man and move ahead. Tom E. Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran