Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

14 Feb 2011

Patriots Place Franchise Tag on Logan Mankins

Adam Schefter reports that the Patriots have placed the franchise tag on guard Logan Mankins.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 14 Feb 2011

36 comments, Last at 17 Feb 2011, 11:07am by Mr Shush


by tuluse :: Mon, 02/14/2011 - 3:55pm

Does he see any of the money if there is no season?

by Dean :: Mon, 02/14/2011 - 4:02pm

No. The Franchise Player gets their game checks. If he's cut or injured, he still is guaranteed those game checks. But if there's no games, there's no checks. It actually might be a smart hedge if you think there will be an abbreviated season.

by andrew :: Mon, 02/14/2011 - 4:32pm

Franchise players get the average of the top 5 at their position, right?

So if the top 5 get nothing, the average of nothing is....

by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Mon, 02/14/2011 - 4:12pm

Unless the Franchise Tag goes away under the CBA, in which case teams have a lot of pissed off new mid-season FAs.

by GlennW :: Mon, 02/14/2011 - 4:45pm

What choices do the Patriots (or any other team with a high-profile free agent) have here though? They might as well protect themselves in the event that the franchise tag is retained. Even a disgruntled player who doesn't wish to be franchised like Logan Mankins has to realize that in advance of a new CBA, no team in its right mind is going to negotiate a lucrative contract that includes any upfront signing bonus money.

by Drunkmonkey :: Mon, 02/14/2011 - 7:54pm

I'm pretty sure that even if the Franchise Tag is not back in the new CBA that the players will agree to allow the current tags to play out. With how far apart they are on a deal it seems like that will be the easiest way to take care of the matter. I understand the argument about whether or not to even keep it for the long run, but everything they are arguing about now makes it seem like a rediculous thing to argue over keeping it for just one year.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/14/2011 - 8:12pm

I wouldn't go so far as to say they'll keep Franchise Tags for a year. It will probably depend on how bitter negotiations become. And if it gets ugly, we could see a repeat of the 1987 travesty.

by Kal :: Mon, 02/14/2011 - 8:39pm

Mankins has already indicated that he's likely to challenge the current franchise tag rules in court, and it's very likely that it will be in his favor if he does so.

Chances are that the franchise tag is effectively meaningless.

by AnonymousA (not verified) :: Mon, 02/14/2011 - 9:39pm

"and it's very likely that it will be in his favor if he does so."
[Citation seriously, really, truly needed]

Are you an accomplished lawyer with a recognized expertise in labor law, especially crazy professional sports-labor law?

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 02/14/2011 - 11:26pm

Count me as one waiting for that citation, too. It's so clearly meaningless that nobody has yet to challenge it. Because nobody else has disliked being tagged?

by Kal :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 3:15am

It's what I've heard repeatedly from Clayton and others. I'm not a lawyer, just repeating what I've said.

The challenge comes from the notion that it would be valueless only if the CBA goes away. Without one, the value of the other is gone. People might want to have challenged it before, but until now the CBA was there to enforce it. Without that...why would the franchise tag works.

ETA: the important point taken from the above is that the players would have to voluntarily choose to allow the franchising to work like it did before. That's a choice. Mankins doesn't have to make that choice. Without the CBA there's nothing enforcing a franchise tag aside from a gentleman's agreement.

by Kal :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 3:21am

Here's an article on it, if you like, from the Boston newspapers:


by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 11:31am

Good article. It's interesting how simple the logic of both sides is. You'd think, with such simple logic, that the court case would take just a jiffy.

Ha ha.

by GlennW :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 1:48pm

Suing for the right to immediate free agency seems like an academic exercise. Who's going to be signed if there's no CBA to define the basic terms? I guess Mankins could argue "I'm now and forever an unrestricted free agent even if the franchise tag is eventually retained in a new CBA", and while that position very well could be negotiated into a new CBA, why would a court rule that the matter is not subject to collective bargaining? Taken to its logical extension, I guess the expiration of the CBA could allow all players to void their existing contracts, if all terms and conditions of the prior CBA are wiped away. Just don't see the rules changing to this extent, unless the NFLPA wants to fight this straight through to Armageddon.

by Kal :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 4:18pm

It's a bit easier than that; the franchise agreements were through the 2010 season. They aren't technically applicable for 2011. Owners are claiming that they should be applicable until the start of the 2011 season, NFLPA...doesn't see it that way.

by Dean :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 4:26pm

The CBA hasn't expired yet. Why should they not be applicable when they were negociated as part of the currently in force CBA?

by Kal :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 7:39pm

Because even in the CBA the franchise tag states that it's through the 2010 season. Why would it be in existence for the 2011 season when it states explicitly otherwise?

Teams and players are acting like it is in play, and it very well might be in play - and a new CBA would almost certainly be expected to retroactively affect whatever franchise tags existed prior into whatever the new version is. But that doesn't mean that it actually should be working right now. While there exists a CBA, it essentially only covers the prior season.

The only question is whether or not doing a franchise tag now is part of the prior season.

by Bobby Wommack (not verified) :: Mon, 02/14/2011 - 5:53pm

I believe he'll be making $10 mil for next year now.

Pats had to do it. The line needs to be completely retooled or addressed his off-season. Light is a free agent and is getting old. He's still solid, but not worthy a long term deal. Koppen is getting old; struggles against bigger lineman. We need a younger center, Kop only has a year left of solid play. RG is a mess. Kazcur is trash, and Connolly is a backup/solid transitional guy. Volmer has RT down, but he may have to move to LT if Light leaves.

Right now Mankins and Volmer are the only constants on the line. I really hope the Pats start paying more attention to the line in the draft.

by John (not verified) :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 2:38am

The Colts have started paying a lot more attention to the O-line in the draft. Let's just say that "paying attention" and "succeeding" are not necessarily congruent concepts.

by Bobby Wommack (not verified) :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 12:54pm


by GiantCandyBar (not verified) :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 6:35am

Just because the Patriots play a lighter, more agile version of Offensive Linemen doesn't mean the players are crap because there are matchups which favor the defensive linemen. They play with a lot of downfield blocking and much movement which isn't easily possible with really heavy OLs. I know they had their issues in the SB (with four players playing injured as far as I remember) and in some games, but over the course of the season this group is one of the best in the league (thanks to Dante Scarnecchia).

The only thing which always made me wonder is that they seem to avoid players of African-American heritage (doesn't that limit the pool of players significantly?). And please don't tell me "if the skills are right they'll take it". Just look at the roster over the past six to eight years.

by dryheat :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 9:13am

Wow...that's a charged argument. I don't know what the NFL team's percentage of black lineman vs. total linemen is, but I really, really, doubt Belichick screens out black lineman when putting together an offensive line. The Super Bowl teams had Damian Woody, Brandon Gorin, and Kenyatta Jones. The current team has Quinn Ojinaka. He drafted George Bussey two years ago. I have no desire to look up his line composition in Cleveland. Maybe that's below average, I don't know, but I refuse to believe a man who's of the win-at-all-cost mentality won't draft an offensive lineman due to the color of his skin.

As for the Franchise Tag bit, the CBA appears to be crystal clear that the Franchise Tag may be used in each year covered by the CBA. I'm not a lawyer, but I shacked up at a Holiday Inn last night, and the only flimsy argument that the NFL appears to have is that the placing of tags at this point is in fact part of the 2010-2011 season. Unless that whimsical argument is bought by judge/arbitrator, the tag on Mankins and any others placed before a new CBA will go away.

by MJK :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 12:55pm

I have actually noticed, and thought it odd, that the Pats recently have had very few to no black offensive linemen. And that does seem to be a little out of the ordinary just given a cursory (i.e. not careful and scientific) look at other teams, that seem to have 2-3 out of 5 black linemen. And, frankly, I don't really tend to notice the skin color of players (for the life of me, I can't recall right now whether Damien Woody or Daniel Graham or Christian Fauria or David Patten or Robert Edwards or half a dozen other current or former Patriots, let alone most players on other teams, are black or white), so the fact I'm noticing this makes it somewhat remarkable.

However, this does not lead me to think that they are racist. As some others have pointed out...just because a few of their prominent offensive skill players (Brady, Welker, Woodhead, the young TE's) happen to be white, doesn't mean that these players are edging out better players because of the color of their skin (it just means that they have "deceptive speed"...well, maybe not Brady). And I'm pretty sure their entire defense this year (with the possible exception of Jerod Mayo...can't recall his race at the moment...) was black. And most of their WR's. And every RB they've had in recent memory except for Woodhead.

It's probably just a random fluke. Unless the overwhelming percentage of linemen in the NFL are black, then there's probably a non-negligible probability that if you pick five linemen randomly, you could happen to end up with five white ones.

by ammek :: Thu, 02/17/2011 - 9:48am

Some dude on the internet with time on his hands looked at all the rosters for Week One of the 2009 season and counted which teams had the most white players. Green Bay came out top, with Houston second and New England third. I've looked for a link but can't find it at the moment. The futility of the exercise was summed up in a passage where he debated how to categorize Brandon Chillar, the Packers' Indian-Irish-Iberian-American backup linebacker.

by JonFrum :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 1:38pm

So someone thinks that Belichick says to himself "I could win Super Bowls, but I"d rather have inferior white offensive linemen and lose."

The thing speaks for itself. Sometimes, the internet goes beyond parody.

by Karma Coma :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 2:45pm

My question would be, are there any black linemen drafted after the white linemen New England drafted who significantly outperformed them?

Light and Mankins are NE's only high-round picks. Looking through the '01 and '05 drafts i don't see anyone(black or white) drafted later at their positions who could claim to be better than Light and Mankins.

I ask this in all seriousness: who are the black players New England "avoided" to draft their other linemen?

by Travis :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 4:41pm

It wasn't technically "after the Patriots had drafted," but in 2009, the Patriots traded the 23rd overall pick to the Ravens, who then drafted Michael Oher.

In the second round of that same draft, the Patriots drafted Sebastian Vollmer.

by GiantCandyBar (not verified) :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 4:39am

You are so funny ... of the Patriots first seven linemen, all of them are caucasian (Light, Mankins, Koppen, Kaczur, Vollmer, Neal, Connolly) ... as it has been in past years.

Kaczur was 3rd round, Vollmer is 2nd round. That makes it four out of four based on your "criteria".

And: High draft picks don't necessarily mean "will develop" into better player esp. for OL. You can grab good players in lower rounds.

I am not saying Belichick or Scarnecchia are going for "inferior" players or are racist, but quite possibly they are simply looking for a "different style" of linemen.

And, if you check other positions - WR, TE - you'll see that the Pats have significantly less players of African American heritage.

by Karma Coma :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 8:55am

"I am not saying Belichick or Scarnecchia are going for "inferior" players or are racist, but quite possibly they are simply looking for a "different style" of linemen."

You said "they seem to avoid players of African-American heritage."

As for TE/WR Belichick has used 1st/2nd round draft picks on Daniel Graham (1), Deion Branch (2), Bethel Johnson (2), Ben Watson (1), and Chad Jackson (2). But, yeah, why let that get in the way your otherwise perfectly formed argument?

I forgot that Vollmer was a 2nd rounder, but no, a 3rd-rounder is not a high pick. That would be a mid-round pick. Also, given his performance his first two years, including 2nd team All PRO this year, i'd say Vollmer has justified his draft position. Again I ask, was there a black tackle drafted after him who has performed significantly better?

If you're going to accuse an organization of racist hiring practices, it's not enough to say that they're only hiring white employees. You have to show that there were obviously more qualified minority employees who were passed over for no reason but race.

by dryheat :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 9:10am

[em]And, if you check other positions - WR, TE - you'll see that the Pats have significantly less players of African American heritage.[/em]

Because clearly Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez have shown to be token players, taking up roster spots due to the color of their skin.

Wait...the Colts have Dallas Clark, Jacob Tamme, Anthony Gonzalez, Blair White, and Austin Collie.....what's going on there?

by Purds :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 9:42am

Dude, the Colts are in Indiana. Of course they're racist. Did you forget?

by GlennW :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 2:59pm

The scariest part of this argument is that if we accept that Belichick is racist (or uses race as a hiring factor at certain positions-- per the "different style" comment above), the next logical step is to conclude that not only is he racist, but that at 14-2, he's right. Is that what you're hinting at with this contention?

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 9:10pm

It could be that I'm wrong about this - if so, someone with a stronger statistical background than mine please correct me - but it seems to me that if we assume the distribution of natural football intelligence in the white American and African American populations as a whole to be identical, we ought to expect the average natural football intelligence of white NFL players to be higher than the average natural football intelligence of black NFL players.

The reasoning:

1. Football playing ability is a some function of natural football intelligence and other football skills.
2. NFL players represent the extreme right hand tail of football playing ability.
3. The African American population as a whole has either a higher mean or a higher variance (I suspect both) in other football skills than the white American population. As we're not interested in any section of the population that isn't pretty damn close to the tail, it doesn't matter for our purposes whether it's the mean or the variance that differs.

Basically, a black guy with low natural football intelligence is more likely to be athletically gifted enough to make it in the league anyway than a white guy with equally low football IQ. The football smartest black players should be expected to be as smart as the football smartest white players, but the football dumbest black players should be expected to be dumber than the football dumbest white players.

Again, please don't think for a minute I'm suggesting some crass, racist, whites-are-smarter-than-blacks bullcrap. I'm just saying that dumb white guys have less chance of making it to the pros than dumb black guys.

If I'm right, then a genuinely colourblind talent evaluator who placed a higher than usual premium on football intelligence would end up with a higher than usual proportion of white players.

by Andrew Potter :: Thu, 02/17/2011 - 6:04am

To summarise, you seem to be saying that African-American players are more often able to get by on pure raw talent and athleticism alone whereas caucasians, typically not blessed with the same raw athleticism, usually have to compliment whatever athleticism they do have with more of the mental game to achieve the same level of success as their typically more naturally gifted African-American teammates. Is that a fair summary?

If so, I'm not sure how likely or otherwise it is. As I understand it, Belichick places a premium on smart defensive players too, and as noted elsewhere the defense is almost entirely African-American. I'd say it's far more likely that he just picked who he considered to be the most suitable player available, at the best value (hence trading down from Oher to Vollmer), for the position he needed filled, and on the offensive line that happened to be more white guys than most other teams have. I'm not sure it needs to be any more complicated than that.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 02/17/2011 - 11:07am

That's about it, yes. What I'm saying broadly comes down to "Darrius Heyward-Bey would not be in the league if he was white, because to reach the NFL while being as fundamentally clueless as to how to play the game as Darrius Heyward-Bey requires a degree of athleticism which no white people possess".

I know it sounds racist, but I really don't think it is. Again, the driving assumption is identical distributions of football IQ in the white and African American populations as a whole, but different distribution of athleticism, leading to different distributions of football IQ among white and African American NFL players, specifically, a difference towards the bottom end only.

And it is of course entirely possible that this even if true this is not an important explanatory factor in New England. Then again, remember that the suggestion is "more relatively football-dumb black players" not "fewer extremely football-smart black players" - I don't think anyone has ever accused Nnamdi Asomugha or Ed Reed of lacking football IQ.

by GiantCandyBar (not verified) :: Thu, 02/17/2011 - 6:52am

First of all, your comments sound a bit racist to me. Honestly, I don't think "talent" (or "football intelligence", wich sounds like a god given gift to me) is the only thing that gets you in the NFL. 15 years of exposure to training can make up for a lot. I don't think that the "talented" players end up in the NFL. More like "a bit of random, a bit of physical traits, a bit of exposure to the right environment, a bit of luck." Talent only has so much to do with it.

Hence, I don't know why all the people in this thread associate the topic with "intelligence" or "football intelligence" or "raw skill". There are additional factors involved when building a team which go beyond statistics, and that is how the individuals work together. So it could be random (as many in this thread suggest), it could be style of play, it could be fit with the other players in the group, it could be that the pats are scouting teams which feature more players of category A. Saying "they seem to avoid" does not imply "they seem to think members of group A don't get it".

My initial comments were not meant to be racist nor did I say Belichick (or whoever is responsible for the OL, which seems to be Dante Scarnecchia in my eyes) are racist. The fact just happened to catch my eye.