A major off-season issue will be the contract situation with Logan Mankins, and whether or not the Patriots will re-sign him.  There is no question that Mankins is one of the best guards in the NFL and it shouldn’t be disputed. The question now is where will Mankins play next season? He is without a contract, but the Patriots could have the ability to franchise him.

Regardless of where Mankins plays football in the future, there is one thing I have learned from this issue. Both sides are to be blamed for his current contract situation.

On the Patriots end, I don’t always see eye to eye on how they handle their contract situations.  I don’t agree with letting some of their better players get to the end of their rookie contracts, and then trying to re-sign them.

Now they have re-negotiated early with a few players like Ty Warren and even Tom Brady. However, there have been other players like Asante Samuel and Deion Branch that should have been aggressively approached for a new deal way before their contract were to run out. In the end the team had built up animosity with the player, and in both of these cases the players eventually were out of New England.

Mankins falls into this category. I don’t understand why the Patriots didn’t negotiate much earlier in his existing contract? It didn’t take long for him to establish that he was a top guard in the league. Instead they waited and the price only went up and the bad blood began to grow. 

On the Mankins end, he has done a few things that I certainly don’t agree with. He made some comments about ownership that he should have kept to himself, and not made public. I understand his frustration, but all he did was upset the Patriots and make it even harder to make a deal.

A contract situation I don’t think can improve by voicing it to the press when you are dealing with the New England Patriots. As we know they are very sensitive to their public image. All this public display by Mankins did was make it more contentious to get a deal done.

Now, I have heard the argument that Mankins did the right thing by holding out, and not coming back in the middle of the season. I complete disagree with this premise. I understand he is a man of principal and he was making a stand. Since he is such a “stand up guy” he should have honored his existing contract like Wilfork did and played the entire season. That to me would have been the right thing to do.

So here we are now with both sides dug into their convictions and enough blame to go around.  Where do we go from here? This is a tough one for me. I have much respect for Mankins as a player, and want him to be in New England. However, this situation is a partnership. I don’t see either side giving in on their convictions. It takes “two to tango”, and we have parties that don’t appear to want to dance with each other.

The best solution I can see is if they can’t get a deal done, whether he likes it or not (and he’s already said he’ll be upset if they do it) would be for the Patriots to franchise Mankins with the thought of trading him. I would try to get the highest draft pick possible for the Pro Bowl player, and then both sides can move on.

But unfortunately at this point I don’t see Mankins playing another down in New England, and it’s too bad because the offensive line will likely be an area they’ll need to address heading into this offseason.