Pats mix praise, exasperation when tagging Mankins

191543.jpg

Pats mix praise, exasperation when tagging Mankins

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com
The Patriots issued a statement after applying the franchise tag to Logan Mankins. And when I say, "the Patriots," that's what I mean. The quote - which mixed high praise followed by apparent agitation with a lack of progress in getting a deal done - wasn't attributed to anyone. Mighta come from someone with the last name Kraft. Mighta come from a guy with the initials BB. Maybe BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead fashioned it. Whatever. Here's the nice portion: "Logan Mankins is a tremendous player. He has been a fixture on our offensive line since we drafted him in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft and he remains an important part of our future plans."And here's the exasperated portion: "Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach a long-term agreement, despite many attempts and proposals by both sides. That remains our objective in utilizing the franchise designation and we are hopeful that Logan will be a Patriot for many years to come." It's important for the Patriots to note that their objective is to get a long-term agreement done. The purpose of the tag is not to restrict movement and keep players from cashing in as unrestricted free agents. The purpose is to get a workable deal for both sides in place. Expect the NFLPA to challenge the Patriots' right to apply this tag. And they have a point. Franchise tags can be handed down during a window which begins 20 days before a new league year begins. There is no 2011 league year currently since there is no collective bargaining agreement in place. So how can the Patriots franchise a player in a year that doesn't exist? Well, they just did.Whether that holds up if and when the NFLPA challenges their right to do that is another story. Still, the franchise tag isn't going away so, even if the court tosses the Patriots' right to use it, once a new CBA comes down, teams needing to use the tag will undoubtedly have a window in which to do so. Mankins is one of the best interior linemen in football. He was an All Pro in 2010 despite playing in only nine games. At the Pro Bowl last month, he said he'd be unhappy if he was franchised. Voila. Of course, Mankins has been unhappy before. Last season, he was a restricted free agent. He turned his nose up to the 3.1 million tender offer, insisting he had been promised a long-term deal. The Patriots made offers that, according to sources, would have made Mankins one of the highest-paid guards in the league. And while Mankins may have been a better player than those paid more handsomely, giving a restricted free agent a long-term deal should have some benefits for the employer. But Mankins stood firm even as his tender offer was halved. He waited until after the seventh game and wound up playing for less than 900,000 in 2010. The tag the Patriots applied is "non-exclusive" meaning Mankins and his agent Frank Bauer are free to negotiate with other teams to get a deal done. Any team wishing to sign Mankins would have to cough up two first-round picks as compensation, unless the Patriots were willing to settle for less. They could be. But the most likely scenario is Mankins plays for the estimated 10.1 million this year (guaranteed) and then the process begins anew next March. Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

top_100_plays_3-4.png

Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

We're into the Top 10 now.

These are the plays of the Bill Belichick Era you best never forget. And probably can't. They're the ones that led directly to championships -- most for New England, a couple for the other guys. Or they're plays that signified a sea change in the way the New England Patriots under Belichick would be behaving from there on out.

I did my best to stack them in order of importance. You got a problem with that? Good. Let us know what's too high, too low or just plain wrong. And thanks for keeping up!

PLAY NUMBER: 4

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Feb. 3, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 20, Rams 17

THE PLAY: Vinatieri 48-yarder in Superdome delivers SB36 win

WHY IT’S HERE: When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, it was viewed nationally and locally as a cathartic moment for a long-suffering region. Deliverance for a fanbase that resolutely suffered through 90 years of star-crossed heartbreak with a mix of stoicism and fatalism. “Long-suffering Red Sox fan” was a badge of honor, an identity. And New Englanders – baseball fans or not - would self-identify with the hideous notion of Red Sox Nation. There was no “Patriots Nation.” To drag out the forced metaphor, Patriots fans were living in tents and cabins in the wilderness, recluses. Reluctant to be seen in town where they’d be mocked. And suddenly, they cobbled together one of the most improbable, magical seasons in American professional sports, a year which gave birth to a dynasty which was first celebrated, now reviled but always respected. And while so many games and plays led to this 48-yarder – ones we’ve mentioned 12 times on this list – Adam Vinatieri kicking a 48-yarder right down the f****** middle to win the Super Bowl was an orgasmic moment for the recluses and pariahs that had been Patriots fans when nobody would admit to such a thing.
 

PLAY NUMBER: 3

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Jan. 19, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 16, Raiders 13

THE PLAY: Vinatieri from 45 through a blizzard to tie Snow Bowl

WHY IT’S HERE: Two thoughts traveling on parallel tracks were running through the mind while Adam Vinatieri trotted onto the field and lined up his 45-yarder to tie Oakland in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, the final one at Foxboro Stadium. “There’s no way he can make this kick in this weather,” was the first. “The way this season’s gone, I bet he makes this kick. It can’t end here. It can’t end now.” From where I was sitting in the press box I couldn’t see the ball clearly, probably because I was looking for it on a higher trajectory than Vinatieri used. So I remember Vinatieri going through the ball, my being unable to locate it in the air and then looking for the refs under the goalposts to see their signal. And when I located them, I saw the ball scuttle past. Then I saw the officials’ arms rise. Twenty-five years earlier, the first team I ever followed passionately – the ’76 Patriots – left me in tears when they lost to the Raiders in the playoffs. Now, at 33, I was covering that team and it had gotten a measure of retribution for the 8-year-old me.