Mankins' Camp Disputes $7M Per Year Offer

The New England Patriots open training camp on July 28, but it remains unclear if Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins will be there.

The New England Patriots open training camp on July 28, but it remains unclear if Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins will be there, reports Ian Rapoport in today's Boston Herald.

Rules governing the uncapped year meant Mankins was denied entry to the unrestricted free agent market this off-season. Instead, the two-time Pro Bowler was a restricted free agent, who the Patriots tendered at the "First- and Third-Round" level, the most exclusive tag, requiring the team that signs him to an offer sheet to compensate the Patriots with a first- and third-round draft choice.

Mankins declined to sign the $3.268 million dollar tender, and on June 15, the Patriots exercised their option of reducing the unsigned tender to 110% of Mankins' 2009 salary, or $1.54 million dollars.

While the two sides haven't communicated, Mankins' agent, Frank Bauer, tells Rapoport that a deal could still get done.

"I think any time the door opens, a deal can get done,” Bauer said on Thursday. “Look, I’m good friends with Bill (Belichick), I know Bob Kraft real well. But (labor) circumstances came out and turned everything sideways. But you never know who is going to pick up a phone and say, ‘We need to get this thing done.’"

New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl guard Jahri Evans, also a restricted free agent this off-season, signed a seven-year, $56.7 million dollar contract extension in May. Evans' deal, and Mankins lingering, unsigned tender were followed by reports that Mankins had turned down a long-standing, long-term offer from New England that was worth $7 million per year.

Mankins' camp insists that the offer was $6.5 million per year, which may not seem like a big difference, but that's a $2.5 million dollar gulf on a five-year pact. The real issue, as it tends to be with the New England Patriots (ask Deion Branch and Adam Vinatieri), is the amount of, or lack of, guaranteed money in their offer to Mankins. (It's also hard to envision a scenario where the Patriots pay the $19 million the Saints are paying Evans in 2010 to any player not named Brady.)

One would think that Mankins had earned enough capital among the Patriots' fanbase to where it would be assumed that his turning down of a $6.5-7 million per year contract offer is an indicator that the guaranteed money wasn't in the $16-21 million dollar range that Pro Bowl-caliber guards like Steve Hutchinson, Chris Snee, and Alan Faneca received in recent off-seasons.

But when word broke that Mankins had turned down $7 million per year, the Patriots effectively won the p.r. campaign on this issue. The important follow-up question--How much of that offer was guaranteed?--was either never asked, or was never mentioned that the amount of guaranteed money, the only aspect of any contract that actually matters, was unknown.

Some (Mike Reinfeldt, Tim Ruskell) may argue that guards simply aren't worth spending $7 million per year on, but if I'm in the AFC East, I'd think otherwise. When a quarter of my schedule is against the Miami Dolphins, who spent $8 million per year on 6-4, 250-pound blitzing inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, and the New York Jets, with Rex Ryan's creative use of pass-rushers, the interior of the offensive line is just as important as edge protection.

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