By Tom E. Curran
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.