Curran: Time to sign Mankins long term is now

191543.jpg

Curran: Time to sign Mankins long term is now

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 tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

curranslant523_1280x720_691350595684.jpg

Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

Monday may have marked a low point in the relationship between the NFL and its on-field employees.

The fight between the league and its best player of the past two decades was in the headlines again. Tom Brady, tied to the NFL’s bumper and dragged around for almost 500 days, had his NFLPA legal team baring its teeth again in the Deflategate mess. The eye-gouging and hair-pulling in that imbroglio over a puff of air allegedly being removed from footballs has cost the league and the PA about $25M so far.

Meanwhile, NFLPA President Eric Winston was saying the league "cannot be trusted to do the right thing when it involves players.” That comment flowed from a Congressional report alleging the NFL tried to exert influence over who would conduct studies regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the condition that’s been blamed for a myriad of former players winding up addled, incapacitated or dead.

I say “may have marked” because the relationship between the two sides has cratered so frequently over the past two years, it’s hard to know exactly what the low point has been. Or how much lower it can go.

And, with the 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement only half done, there is ample opportunity for things to get worse. Because, really, why would they get better?

With the NFL’s owners safe knowing that their emperor/puppet/human shield is still in place to take the hits and do their dirty work, there’s seemingly no groundswell among that group to relieve Roger Goodell of his duties. Despite reports of growing owner discontent over Deflategate, the Ray Rice investigation, and an appeal of a case in which the league was found to have withheld $100M from players, there is no Sword of Damocles dangling over the league to cut ties with Goodell.

He was able to oversee the league’s re-entry in Los Angeles (though that “triumph” was fraught with owner acrimony), is going to get a game played in China, keeps edging closer to getting a franchise based in Europe and may even land one in Las Vegas, has enhanced the league’s reach on social media (the announcement of some games being aired on Twitter) and keeps making billions hand over fist.

Goodell’s presence won’t be an impediment to a new labor deal getting done for another five years. By then, when the issues of Goodell’s role in player discipline, drug testing and his relationship with the union come to the fore, the owners might feel compelled to cut him loose after 15 seasons in charge.

But even then, the league’s owners will be in the business of pointing out to the players how good they’ve had it under the current CBA. The league’s salary cap structure – decried as a disaster in the first years of the deal – has seen the cap grow from $120M in 2011 to $155M this year. Players’ practice time and the wear and tear on their bodies has been reduced thanks to the new limits on contact enacted. Benefits are better. Retired players are getting better care. Players have more off-field marketing opportunities with companies that want to affix themselves to the most popular sport in the United States.

As bad as the headlines have been for Goodell, in five years (or probably fewer since negotiations on a new CBA will begin in 2020) who will remember the disaster that’s been Deflategate? How inspired will players be to miss games and paychecks for the satisfaction of knowing Goodell can’t be his own arbitrator anymore?

To sum it up, Goodell’s dark disciplinary reign may well continue unabated for a few more seasons. But as long as the league rains money on its players through the end of this decade, the clock isn’t ticking on Goodell and the owners in the form of labor strife.

Smith: Brady made an 'incredibly generous offer' to settle Deflategate

curranslant523_1280x720_691350595684.jpg

Smith: Brady made an 'incredibly generous offer' to settle Deflategate

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith joined the Dan Patrick Show -- hosted by Ross Tucker on Monday -- to discuss the petition that was eventually filed to the Second Circuit requesting a rehearing for Tom Brady's case. 

During the discussion, Smith insisted that Brady made a settlement offer long ago that might've resolved things. But because the NFL wanted more, a deal was never struck. Now here we are, almost 500 days since the AFC Championship Game in January of 2015, and Deflategate is still a living, breathing thing. 

"Tom's a standup guy," Smith said. "And I think he made a settlement offer to resolve this. The league chose not to take it, and that's where we are . . . I don't want to go into details, but it was an incredibly generous offer to resolve this. The league asked for something that no man should agree to do."

Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran explained on Monday's episode of Quick Slants that Brady was willing to accept a one-game suspension for a lack of cooperation at the outset of the investigation. But the league was looking for a face to take the blame, Curran explained. 

Both Jim McNally and John Jastremski were willing to take the heat off of Brady, but Brady insisted that he would not throw anyone else under the bus because he believed that there was no wrongdoing on his part or anyone else's when it came to the preparation of game footballs. 

With no one offered up to shoulder the blame, the NFL declined to agree to any proposal from Brady's camp. At that point, it would have been almost impossible to predict that this case would one day be only a step or two from getting the US Supreme Court involved. 

Yet here we are.