Pats mix praise, exasperation when tagging Mankins


Pats mix praise, exasperation when tagging Mankins

By TomE. Curran
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 Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32


Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.

Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.

Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.

"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."

The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.

The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.

"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."

Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.