|Notes and Observations Week 16: Patriots Escape from New York with 17-16 Win; Clinch First Round Bye.||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets|
The Patriots announced on Tuesday that left guard Logan Mankins has finally reported back to the team after missing the first eight weeks of the season.
He was the last NFL player to report to his team.
Mankins had until Nov. 16 to report in order to add another year to his NFL career in 2010-2011, allowing him to become a free agent at the end of this season. Under the new free-agency guidelines, which came into effect this year after NFL owners opted out the collective bargaining agreement, players need to have played at least six seasons to become an unrestricted free agent, Mankins has played five.
After he signs his $1.54 million free-agent tender, Mankins will be ready to play, and the Patriots will be glad to have him back.
“Logan came in, I met with him this morning, and it’s good to have him back on the team,” said coach Bill Belichick.
“He’s been a great player and person for our football team. He’s tough. He’s smart. You just can’t have too many guys like that on your football team. We’re glad he’s back.”
Things got ugly between Mankins and the Patriots back in June, when the Pro Bowl guard demanded a trade after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a long-term contract.
Now, five months later, Mankins returns to a team that has the best record in the NFL (6-1).
Mankins certainly won’t be happy with his current short-term contract, but once he gets back in the locker room, I expect it will be business as usual for a player so revered by teammates.
The Patriots are a good team, but the addition of Mankins makes them even better.
Don’t expect Mankins to return to the starting lineup right away. Fifth-year pro Dan Connolly should continue to lineup between left tackle Matt Light and center Dan Koppen for at least a few more weeks.
When Mankins does return for the stretch run, he’ll provide the Pats with a beastly run-blocker who will also significantly improve their pass protection. Brady has been sacked 10 times over the past three weeks, after being sacked a total of 16 last year.
He’ll also provide depth for a few weeks before he returns to the starting lineup in the event of an injury or unforeseen roster move.