By Tom E. Curran
Logan Mankins sounded pessimistic on Friday when talking to The Boston Heraldabout the likelihood of staying with the Patriots when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. "The way its looking right now, I dont see it happening," Mankins told the Herald's Karen Guregian at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. "I dont see them trying to keep me, unless its with the franchise tag."Earlier in the week, Mankins threw out a blanket statement insinuating the Patirots had as good a chance as any team of retaining his services. Friday's comment is probably a more realistic appraisal of how he sees things going down. The problem with Mankins' logic is that the Patriots certainly will try to keep him. And the franchise tag is a very, very real possibility for Mankins. At this point, the league believes it's entitled to use the franchise tag on players who would be unrestricted free agents because it can be applied 22 days before the start of the new league year. The new league year would begin on March 4 if there were a CBA agreement. But with no CBA, can a team actually franchise a player to retain his services for a season which - technically - doesn't exist? Expect the Patriots to be one of the teams to act as if it can. And expect legal mumbo jumbo on that front to follow. If the Patriots apply the tag to Mankins, it will prevent him from realizing unrestricted free agency for the second straight year after being locked up as a restricted free agent last year. That would keep Mankins fromgetting the security of a long-term contract and the financial benefit of a pile of guaranteed money. So it's no surprise Mankins said to Guregian, "I wouldnt be happy about that, if thats what they chose to do, to be dealt that kind of hand. But well see what happens."
Tom E. Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
By Tom E. Curran