The New England Patriots have traded long time guard Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for second year tight end Tim Wright and a fourth round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. The trade came out of nowhere right before the last preseason games for each team. Mankins has long been a staple of the Patriots offensive line, but they may have seen a lack of depth at tight end, considering the ongoing injury concerns of All-Pro Rob Gronkowski.
Logan Mankins is going into his tenth season in the NFL, all of them spent with the Patriots. He was drafted out of Fresno State with the final pick of the first round in the 2005 NFL Draft. In his nine years in New England, he has made the Pro Bowl six times, along with being named an All-Pro five times. For an offensive lineman, his durability has been impressive as well, considering he has been a consistent starter since being drafted in 2005.
The player that the Patriots got in exchange for Mankins is second year tight end Tim Wright. He went undrafted in 2013 as a wide receiver out of Rutgers, and was converted to tight end after making the Buccaneers squad. Wright had a slow start to his career in 2013, not getting any playing time in the Bucs first two games, but earning more time as the season went on. He had a breakout performance in his first start, a Week Six loss to the Eagles, five touchdowns.
During coach Bill Belichick’s tenure, the Patriots have made a habit of getting rid of players slightly before the end of their careers and this could be another example of that. Mankins has played nine years in the league, including playing in the playoffs in all but one of those seasons, and for an offensive lineman, that is a very long career. The New England staff may have seen a dip in his play and thought they could get something for him now, rather than waiting until he retires or his trade value vastly diminishes.
However, this trade could also be a sign that the Patriots are worried about their depth at the tight end position, considering the trouble Gronkowski has had the last few years staying on the field. New England could be satisfied with their depth on the offensive line and realized getting a tight end could help greatly, even if it means sacrificing a great offensive lineman. Using Wright and Gronkowski could also be part of the Patriots’ plan for the offense this year, considering how successful they were with the past combination of Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
Making this trade was a smart move, depth-wise, for both teams. The Patriots are shallow at tight end and the Buccaneers definitely needed help on the offensive line. Tampa just drafted tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins out of Washington in the second round and are very high on him, so the need for Tim Wright was greatly diminished. With the loss of Davin Joseph and the underwhelming play of Carl Nicks since signing him to a big contract, the offensive line was a big need for the Bucs. Along with getting another tight end, the Patriots also got a fourth round pick, which is always a valued commodity in the NFL.
The Patriots trade of Logan Mankins to the Buccaneers for a fourth round pick and tight end Tim Wright came out of nowhere, but could potentially be a big help to both teams. New England get depth at tight end and Tampa get offensive line help they desperately needed. Usually such established pros like Mankins are not traded, but the Patriots are a team willing to roll the dice. That may have been just what they have done here.
Commentary by Max Petkevicius