Mankins hopes ruling leads to free agency

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Mankins hopes ruling leads to free agency

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

Logan Mankins is a case study in why the mantra of NFL owners has been negotiation, not litigation.

If the players take their antitrust case against the NFL through to conclusion (unlikely, but an arrow they have in their quiver), chances are high that anything restricting the free movement of players will be poof gone.

And that means the franchise tag the Patriots applied to Mankins in February will be a thing of the past.

To be clear, the most likely endgame to all this huffing and puffing will be a new CBA thats player-friendly and agreed upon without interruption of games.

Even though there are rogue voices among agents and lawyers that want the draft, franchise tags and anything else restricting movement to disappear the ushering in of a true free-market system cooler heads will prevail on the players side.

But until those heads do prevail, and until the owners stand down somewhat, the players can remain locked, loaded and ready to take their very solid case to its conclusion.

During Matt Lights Lockout Breakfast on Tuesday morning at the Liberty Hotel, Mankins told the gathering, Ive heard theres this thing called free agency. Its been two years since his rookie contract expired and I havent seen it. Maybe one of these days I could actually experience that.

Sources on both sides of the labor fence have told me that the franchise tag will almost certainly be a part of the next CBA. It might have some alterations, but it will be there. The reason? The players arent going to go to the mat to have the tag removed from the CBA since it affects such a small and generally well-compensated portion of their constituency. It will be a concession the players make to extract more from the owners on another front.

Thats why all the speculation and hand-wringing about whether or not Mankins will be a Patriot is in truth wasted effort. Wheres he going to go? Whats he going to do? He plays football for New England or not at all.

Unless the players push through with litigation and any measure that unilaterally binds employees to employers is abolished.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Bennett says he is 'just chilling' and hasn't given free agency 'a ton of thought'

Bennett says he is 'just chilling' and hasn't given free agency 'a ton of thought'

Will Martellus Bennett be back with the Patriots next season?

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport says it's "a real possibility" Bennett leaves given the asking price and potential offers.

Less than an hour later, the unrestricted free agent sent out a tweet responding to speculation about his future.

Bennett, who will 30 years old in March, had seven touchdowns in 19 games in his first season with the New England Patriots. 

 

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

LeGarrette Blount knows where he wants to be for 2017. Ever since he re-joined the Patriots in 2014 following a short stay in Pittsburgh, the 250-pound back has been very open about how he wants to play out the rest of his career in New England. 

Those feelings haven't changed, even as he faces free-agency after having recorded the best season of his seven-year career.

"I just want to make sure that I go to this free agency with an open mind, knowing that I definitely want to go back to New England," he told NFL Total Access on Monday. "I love it there. I love the culture. I love the players. I've become close with a lot of the guys. Obviously you know how my running back group is.

"We'll cross that bridge whenever we cross it. On that point, I feel great. I'm in amazing shape. I feel like I could play 100 more years if I have to."

Blount finished 2016 with career-highs in attempts (299) yards (1,161) and touchowns (18). His ability to help the Patriots close games in the fourth quarter was notable throughout the course of the season, and he was among the most effective goal-line backs in the league. His 18 rushing scores are a franchise record.

Toward the end of the season, as Dion Lewis worked his way back into the Patriots offense, Blount had his workload cut into, and his fumble in the Super Bowl was a near-catastrophic moment -- his devastated reaction to which was caught expertly by NFL Films. But a big-picture view of Blount's year would reveal that he  posted the most prodictive "big back" season the Patriots have had in more than a decade.

Blount signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last offseason after seeing his 2015 prematurely ended by way of a hip injury. He turned 30 in December.