Curran: Mankins holds hammer over owners

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Curran: Mankins holds hammer over owners

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots InsiderFollow @tomecurran
Is Logan Mankins' latest stand just an idle roll of the dice as he walks out of the casino? Or will he go all in on his request to be somehow compensated in the settlement of Brady vs. The NFL ?As one of the 10 plaintiffs in the Brady vs. The NFL case, Mankins has been told he's entitled to something. He, as well as Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson, are reportedly asking for either 10 million or removal of their franchise tag and unrestricted free agency. The other plaintiffs - Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees included - will also be seeking something in return for settling the suit. What exactly they're requesting hasn't yet been determined. (UPDATE: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports Mankins has not yet requested a financial settlement "so far.")Mankins' situation is different from the rest. He's one of the two best guards in the NFL and has been paid, frankly, like a scrub. He feels he's been betrayed by Patriots ownership. Could Mankins hold up a settlement, ratification of the new CBA, the chance to return his 1,800 or so union brethren to work and restore jobs and pay for the workaday folks affected by this lockout just so he can get a pound of flesh back from the Krafts? We'll find out in the next 24 hours. Quick rehash of Mankins' position. By the end of the 2009 season, he was enraged that the Patriots handed out contract extensions to other players after having told him they weren't doing extensions because of the looming lockout. When he missed out on unrestricted free agency because of the pre-lockout rule restricting players with five or fewer accrued seasons from hitting the market, he grew more angry. He refused to sign his restricted free agent tender, raged against the Krafts for betraying him and vowed never to play in Foxboro again. The Patriots slashed his tender offer from 3.16 million to 1.54. He still didn't report and ultimately played nine games for the Patriots making about 900,000. The Patriots have franchised Mankins for the 2011 season. He'll make over 10 million but still hasn't signed his franchise tender offer. This is his play to get out of having to do so. Looking at it from his side, he's hitting ownership in general, and the Krafts in particular, where it hurts. He's keeping them from making money by holding up business. And, after the Krafts held the hammer and used it on him for the past two years, Mankins has the hammer now. Until the Brady case is satisfied and rolled into the so-called "global settlement" between players and owners, nobody can vote on ratification of the deal. The players aimed to get that vote done Tuesday or Wednesday. And until the players vote, it can't go to the owners for ratification on Thursday. From ground level with lawyers whispering in his ear that now's the time to make the Krafts pay and get back the money he was jobbed out of, it must seem very attractive to Mankins. He can claim it's more about retribution than money and -- given he's turned his back on millions so far because he hasn't liked the offers -- I'd tend to believe him. But Mankins is also a tremendous teammate. He returned to the team last November earlier than he had to and was fully embraced. Those players and the rest of the league are in limbo currently and he's part of the reason why. Can he stand that? Part of me believes the owners should justgivethe guy his 10 million and move on. You're already on the plus side, it's not coming out of the Krafts' pockets and Mankins is still franchised. But the fact that Mankins wasn't screwed out of a new contract simply by the Krafts but by the rules of the last CBA that Mankins' union brethren agreed to makes me think he should swallow it. But, in the end, the Krafts used the hammer on Mankins when they had it. Now that it's changed hands, it will be fascinating to see how Mankins uses it. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable. 

Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws. 

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo spoke Wednesday for the first time since getting his shoulder separated by the Dolphins’ Kiko Alonso. Standing by his locker, Garoppolo was predictably vague about the status of his arm, unless you consider, “Getting better day by day,” as being insightful. 

The only two responses offered that were worth a damn came when asked if he could have done anything different when he got squished by Alonso while retreating and buying time.  

“Just have to be smart I guess,” said Garoppolo. “I mean, it’s football and stuff’s gonna happen like that, but have to be smart in those situations.”

Asked if he regretted holding the ball as long as he did on a third-down play with the Patriots up 21-0, Garoppolo replied, “After it’s all said and done it’s easy to say that, but it’s one of those things, you’re in the heat of the game. But bottom line I have to be smarter than that.”

Agreed.  

Meanwhile, as he worked last week to get back for Thursday night’s game against Houston, The Boston Herald reported that the Patriots were “putting pressure” on Garoppolo to be ready for the game. Working hard to get key players ready for upcoming games is standard operating procedure for a medical staff. Trying to force a player to perform is not. 

I asked Garoppolo if he felt unduly pressured. He replied, “No.”