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Patriots issue statement regarding Logan Mankins and the franchise tag

02.14.11 at 8:04 pm ET
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The Patriots issued a statement on Monday night confirming the fact they had placed the franchise tag on offensive lineman Logan Mankins. Here’s the full text of their release:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. ‘€“ The New England Patriots announced that they are utilizing the franchise designation on guard Logan Mankins. Last year, the Patriots used the franchise designation to retain the rights to Vince Wilfork. The designation was later removed when the two sides agreed to a long-term contract extension.

Tonight, the Patriots confirmed the use of the franchise designation and issued the following statement: ‘€œLogan 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. 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.’€

Mankins has started 89 regular season games and 10 postseason games at left guard since joining the Patriots as a first-round draft pick out of Fresno State in 2005. He has earned three Pro Bowl honors (2007, 2009 and 2010) and has been selected to the Associated Press All Pro team three times (2007, 2009 and 2010). Last season, he earned the honors despite missing the first seven weeks of the season. Mankins joins Hall of Famer John Hannah as the only Patriots’€™ guards to earn Pro Bowl bids since the 1970 merger.

Since entering the starting lineup as a rookie in 2005, Mankins has been part of an offensive line that has helped the Patriots’€™ offense finish in the top ten in total offense five times: 2005 (7), 2007 (1), 2008 (5), 2009 (3) and 2010 (8).

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What’s next for the Patriots and Logan Mankins?

02.14.11 at 6:18 pm ET
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The decision to place the franchise tag on Logan Mankins is the least surprising Patriots story of the year.

The Pro Bowl guard, who was designated as New England’€™s franchise player for 2011, will now receive a one-year guaranteed contract equal to the five highest-paid players at his position. There has been no official announcement as of yet, but according to ESPN’€™s Adam Schefter, the franchise offensive line number for 2011 is projected to be $10.1 million.

Oh, but if it were only that simple. First, in this contentious labor climate, the franchise tag as we know it might not even hold up. As we explained here earlier this month, the tag appears to be a sticking point between the players and owners. While the owners consider the franchise tag set in stone, the players association says that if there’€™s no new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the tag would be meaningless, creating an uncertain future for the Fresno State product.

If the franchise tag does hold up, what’€™s next? In Seinfeld parlance, in this relationship, the Patriots have hand. Mankins (who was clearly steamed about the prospect of being tagged earlier this year) is under contract for another season in New England, and there’€™s little he can do about it. The Patriots could also deal him, but there’€™s not much of a market for a guard who makes $10.1 million a year, even one of Mankins’€™ ability.

However, one thing that’€™s important to remember is that the tag given Mankins was reportedly non-exclusive, which gives him the option to try and negotiate a deal with other teams. That would certainly help facilitate a trade. It’€™s not easy ‘€” by rule, the price for franchised player is two first-round picks ‘€” but teams do have the option to negotiate, and it’€™s something New England has done on two other occasions.

In 2003, New England franchised Tebucky Jones, and then dealt him to New Orleans for an impressive haul ‘€” a seventh-round pick in that draft and a second- and fourth-round pick in the 2004 draft. It was also the case in 2009 when they franchised quarterback Matt Cassel, hitting him with the non-exclusive tag. That drama ended when Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel were dealt to Kansas City for a second-round pick in the 2009 draft that turned out to be Patrick Chung.
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Read More: adam schefter, Asante Samuel, Logan Mankins, Matt Cassel

Report: Patriots place franchise tag on Logan Mankins

02.14.11 at 3:18 pm ET
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According to a report from Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Patriots have placed the franchise tag on guard Logan Mankins. He will paid a salary of $10.1 million should he sign the offer, according to the Schefter report. Mankins sat out the Patriots’ first seven games of the 2010 season before signing his contract tender as a restricted free agent. He told the Boston Herald before the 2011 Pro Bowl that he would not be pleased if the Patriots put the franchise tag on him this offseason.

‘€œI wouldn’€™t be happy about (being franchised), if that’€™s what they chose to do, to be dealt that kind of hand,’€™’€™ Mankins told the Herald. ‘€œBut we’€™ll see what happens. I would never say the door is totally shut. But the way it’€™s looking right now, I don’€™t see them trying to keep me, unless it’€™s with the franchise tag.’€

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Temple DT Muhammad Wilkerson

02.14.11 at 7:36 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2011 NFL draft.

Muhammad Wilkerson

Position: Defensive Tackle

School: Temple

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 305 pounds

Achievements: First team All-MAC (2009)

What he brings: With ideal size and ability as both a pass-rusher and run-stopper, Wilkerson is an ideal five-technique prospect. He played 11 games as a junior, racking up 68 tackles, 10 sacks, and a forced fumble in his final year as an Owl. The New Jersey native had steady enough production in his sophomore and junior campaigns that his stock probably wouldn’€™t get past being a late first-rounder at best, and given the Patriots’€™ plethora of picks in the first two rounds, they could stand to use Carolina’€™s pick on him to solidify a position that was in flux a season ago.

Where the Patriots could get him: No. 33 or 60.

Notes: Defensive line was a need that went unaddressed in the first six rounds of the last year draft, and though Gerard Warren did a nice job with Ty Warren out for the season, the former Warren is a free agent and the team needs another solid five-technique even with Ty Warren back. The team couldn’€™t exactly be blamed for ignoring the five-technique prospects early on in the 2010 draft, as the class was so thin at the position that they likely would have had to reach to snag a 3-4 end. Jared Odrick, the five-technique prospect out of Penn whom the Pats passed on to take Devin McCourty, played in just one game last season. He sustained an injury in Week 1 against the Bills and ended up breaking his foot while working his way back in practice and ended up missing the rest of the season. The Patriots haven’€™t taken a 3-4 defensive end in the first two rounds since Marquise Hill in 2004.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: UNC WR GREG Little

02.12.11 at 3:33 pm ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2011 NFL draft.

Greg Little

Position: Wide Receiver/Running Back

School: North Carolina

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 220 pounds

What he brings: One of the top recruits in 2007 (ranging anywhere from the No. 5 receiver to the No. 13 athlete), Little’€™s ‘€œathlete’€ status has kind of stuck with him through college. After playing running back in his first two seasons at UNC, he was moved to wide receiver in 2009 for his junior year. He led the Tar Heels with 724 receiving yards and five touchdowns that season and capped it with a two-touchdown effort in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Though it would seem he was set to have a stock-boosting senior campaign in which he could build a first-round résumé, the aforementioned bowl game proved to be his last. An NCAA suspension (see below) cost him his senior season, so he’€™ll have to ace the Combine and kill it at Pro Day to convince teams he’€™s worth a high pick.

Where the Patriots could get him: Anywhere from the late second to the fifth round

Notes: The Patriots have liked UNC receivers in the past and present (Sam Aiken, Brandon Tate), and in the case of Tate have even been willing to overlook off-field issues. That’€™s perfect for Little, as he was among the group of Tar Heel players busted for accepting benefits from an agent (a group that also included potential top 5 pick Robert Quinn and defense tackle Marvin Austin). While that’€™s certainly a punishable offense in the NCAA, it doesn’€™t measure up to some of the other types of off-field issues players can have leading up to the draft (marijuana, DUI). He also de-committed to Notre Dame to sign with UNC. It will be interesting to see how everything plays out for Little.

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Potential Patriots: Brian Williams

02.12.11 at 12:30 am ET
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Despite the looming labor uncertainty, as free agency approaches, WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that could be available to the Patriots in free agency this offseason.

Brian Williams
Position: Cornerback
Team: Atlanta
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 202
Age: 31

Why the Patriots would be interested: Assuming that the Patriots get Leigh Bodden back healthy next season, the duo of Bodden and Devin McCourty could be one of the top corner tandems in the league. However, New England still needs to build depth at the position, and the possibility of a well-traveled veteran like the 31-year-old Williams providing quality snaps in relief of Bodden or McCourty or as a slot corner would make a lot of sense.

Why it would happen: There figure to be other, higher-profile corners on the market this offseason (Nnamdi Asomugha, Champ Bailey), but the Patriots are simply looking to build depth at the spot this offseason, and Williams, an unrestricted free agent, is as good a choice as any. He’€™s not a starter ‘€” age and injury have made sure of that ‘€” but he’€™s a smart veteran with a good rep. Williams has some positional versatility, as he’€™s played both corner and safety over the course of his career. It doesn’€™t appear the Falcons will franchise Williams, and he would almost certainly come at a reasonable price. He won’€™t remind anyone of Ty Law, but could provide a bridge year to younger corners or even step in in a pinch.
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Read More: Brian Williams, Carlos Rogers, Champ Bailey, Chris Carr

Report: Mike Woicik will leave Patriots for Dallas

02.11.11 at 8:26 pm ET
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Mike Woicik has decided to leave the Patriots after 11 seasons as the strength and conditioning coach, and will take the same job with the Cowboys, according to a report from ESPNDallas. Woicik, who joined the Patriots shortly before the 2000 season, returns to Dallas, where he won three rings as the strength and conditioning coach with the Cowboys in the mid-1990s before doing the same with New England. He is the only player or coach with six Super Bowl rings.

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