Sounds like Mankins intends to play the field

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Sounds like Mankins intends to play the field

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

It doesn't sound like bygones are necessarily bygones for Logan Mankins. Tuesday at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, Mankins took a sarcastic swipe at Patriots owner Robert Kraft and said "32 teams" are in play for his services once free agency opens.
Speaking to Karen Guregian of The Boston Herald, Mankins was asked whether he apologized to Patriots owner Robert Kraft for questioning Kraft's integrity last summer.
"Well, everyone knows I apologized to Mr. Kraft. He told everyone," Mankins said in what Guregian said was a tone laced with sarcasm. Mankins was one of the players caught up in a CBA loophole that prevented him from becoming a free agent last spring. He was instead a restricted free agent bound to the Patriots. Mankins expected a contract extension anyway. The Patriots offered a five-year deal that would have made Mankins one of the highest-paid players at his position in the league. Mankins and his agent, Frank Bauer, turned their nose up to that and went on the offensive. Mankins joined the Patriots after missing seven games and was brilliant, being selected not only for the Pro Bowl but also as an All-Pro. His price tag has only gone up. And while he didn't rule out the Patriots, the fact he basically lumped them in with everyone else shows the mindset Mankins is working with. "There are 32 teams in play," Mankins told Guregian. "Whatever one I feel is the best situation for me.Theres always a possibility for the Patriots. But to tell you the truth, I havent given it much thought right now. If there was a CBA, Im sure Id be thinking about it a lot more."The Patriots could franchise Mankins (if there's a franchise tag when the new CBA is ratified), but that won't likely be a hit with Mankins. Based on the cordial relations the Pats and Mankins seemed to have from the time he reported (three weeks earlier than he needed to to get an accrued season) through the end of the year, I wondered if an informal agreement had been reached between Mankins and the team. An agreement that would see him signed before the ink was dry on a new CBA. But his comments on Tuesday indicate he - at least outwardly - has no such special allegiance to the Patriots.

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

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.

Garoppolo's mom keeps him apprised of trade rumors: 'She's all over that stuff'

Garoppolo's mom keeps him apprised of trade rumors: 'She's all over that stuff'

Jimmy Garoppolo can't help but hear trade rumors that involve his name. He heard all about them during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. Now his mom's keeping him up to date. 

"My mom loves telling me the news updates," Garoppolo told ESPN's Adam Schefter, "so she’s all over that stuff, but it’s been working really well . . . 

"I’m telling you, she could be your assistant. She’s all over the place. Her and my dad on Twitter and stuff like that. I don’t even think they know how to tweet, but they always have something going on . . .

"They know what to hit me with and what to keep quiet. They know me so well that they know what I’d like to hear and what I don’t need to hear. There’s a couple slip-ups here and there, I’m not going to lie to you, but they’re just so excited about it. It’s an exciting time, and they’re loving it."

Garoppolo tried his best to deflect questions about his future as he prepared for Super Bowl LI, but he could only insulate himself so much from those conversations. After six quarters of well-played football, he's chummed the waters for quarterback-starved franchises. As the draft nears, offers are expected to hit the Gillette Stadium offices, and it will be up to Bill Belichick and his staff to determine whether they should part ways with Tom Brady's backup. 

Schefter asked Garoppolo about one team in particular that could be interested: the Chicago Bears. Their general manager Ryan Pace is an Eastern Illinois alum, like Garoppolo, and Garoppolo is a Chicago-area kid. 

"I get asked about [that possibility] all the time from my friends and family back in Chicago," Garoppolo said. "They’re good reporters, my family. But I keep telling them I really don’t know how it would feel until . . . if it was to happen, I wouldn’t know how I’d feel until it did, you know? So it’s kind of one of those things, it’s hard to say right now."

Garoppolo added: "For the most part I am just trying to stay level-headed, trying not to think about it, over think it too much because at the end of the day I am still under contract. It is not my decision if I get traded or if I don’t, so I am just trying to take it all in stride. At the end of the day, you just have to enjoy it. The NFL, it is a hard place to be, hard place to succeed and when you get an opportunity you have to go and take advantage of it."

The idea of getting an opportunity, though, is an enticing one. Before the 2016 season, Garoppolo was very open about how he looked forward to his opportunity to start with Brady suspended for the first four weeks of the season. And with Schefter, he acknowledged that there are times when it's hard not to be impatient when you're the guy behind the guy.

"There’s times," Garoppolo said. "Obviously the kickoff happens and you are ready to roll. The juices get flowing again. You get the adrenaline, the butterflies. It’s football, you have to love the atmosphere . . . 

"We all play the game. We all want to be out there on the field and get an opportunity to play. I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there is probably the best way to put it. We’re competitors at the end of the day. We want to be out there, I want to be out there competing and playing with my teammates.”