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

Gronkowski nominated for Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

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Gronkowski nominated for Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski is up for one of the NFL's most prestigious awards, and it's not simply for what he's done while on the football field. 

The Patriots tight end is the team's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, it was announced on Wednesday. Each year the award recognizes one player for his excellence on and off the field.

“We’re proud to honor these outstanding men who represent the NFL’s best on and off the field,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “Our players have a unique platform to make a difference far beyond the field of play. We salute these individuals who are exemplary in their commitment to making a positive impact in communities across the globe through their dedicated service and philanthropic efforts.”

The winner will be announced in Houston on the night before Super Bowl LI.

Gostkowski named AFC special teams player of week

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Gostkowski named AFC special teams player of week

FOXBORO -- It's been an uncharacteristically erratic season for Stephen Gostkowski, but on Sunday the Patriots Pro Bowl kicker was dialed in. And his four field-goal performance against Los Angeles earned him AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. It is the second time this season and the fifth time in his career that Gostkowski has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, having also won the award after the first game of the season at Arizona. 

Gostkowski's missed four field goals so far this season. He hasn't missed four in a year since 2012 when he missed six field goals. He's also missed three extra points. While the Patriots were a little downcast about the inability of their offense to close out drives against the Rams, an ancillary benefit was undoubtedly Gostkowski having a day that should boost his confidence going forward.