Here's an example of the national media take on the Mankins trade, via this article written by some guy named Andrew Sharp. It's entitled, "The Genius and Stupidity of Bill Belichick", and is set out below, with my comments interjected therein, in bold black:
The Logan Mankins trade was so Patriots, it was almost too Patriots. A six-time Pro Bowler for a fourth-round pick and a tight end from Rutgers. God. It was raw and uncut Belichick, injected straight into our heart. Any team getting rid of a player like Mankins would have been surprising this summer. But a week before the season? That’s what it makes it so Belichick.
RESPONSE: "...(that) injected straight into our heart." Oh, God...spare me! I've read a lot of posts on the Mankins trade, and I haven't seen many Patriots' fans ay anything close to this. Most of us realize that this is part of the "Patriot Way". It's part of a rebuilding and reloading strategy by BB, done on the fly. It can be traced back to the BB decision in 2003 to release popular team captain, Lawyer Milloy, to the Deion Branch trade for a #1 pick in 2005, to the Richard Seymour trade for a 2011 #1 pick in 2009, to the decision to trade Randy Moss for a 3rd round pick in 2010, to the decision to let Wes Welker move on in 2013, to this current Mankins matter. There's a hard salary cap in the NFL, which requires some hard choices to be made. Over the years, with few exceptions, BB has shown that he knows when it's the right time to let go of his high priced, aging veteran players.
If any other coach facing questions on the offensive line — the retirement of wizard coach Dante Scarnecchia, questions between the tackles — decided to do this a week before the season started, there would be all kinds of backlash. Right? Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh, Sean Payton — we’d all do a double take. Only Bill Belichick could gamble like this and actually come away looking smart.
RESPONSE: Again, BB has repeatedly taken similar "gambles"/moves over the past decade. Despite shrieks of despair from some fans, and heavy criticism from the national media, BB nearly always has come out on top with these tough veteran roster moves.
But here we are.
RESPONSE: Yes...here we are again, with the Patriots poised for another 11-13 win season.
Twitter from Albert Breer: Tim Wright's 2014 cap number is $498,333, or just over $10 million less than Logan Mankins' was.
Twitter from Greg Bedard: What few wanted to admit was Mankins' play had slipped the past few years. This is BB selling high.
I won’t pretend to be an offensive line expert — that’s Mays’s department — but it seems like this trade puts a lot of pressure on a younger core to stay healthy and produce. Mankins was proven. He was making a ton of money, and he gave up eight sacks over the second half of the season last year, but he was still an above-average piece of a position group in which stability matters.
RESPONSE: What a ridiculous paragraph! There's pressure of every player on the roster to perform! How is there added pressure of a player to "stay healthy"? That's out of a players' control! Do you really think that BB would have sent Mankins packing, if he thought that he didn't have at least an adequate replacement for him? Obviously, he has lots of faith in Josh Cline, Marcus Cannon, Cameron Fleming, Jordan Devey, Bryan Stork, and Jon Halapio to help in filling any void. As for Mankins being "proven", isn't that argument undermined by the fact that he gave up eight (8) sacks in the second half of the season, and played horribly in the AFC title game loss to Denver? Sharp...why should BB be paying Mankins "a ton of money", reserved for top of the line stars, when you yourself concede that he is at best an "above average" player?
Tim Wright, the tight end they got for Mankins along with a fourth-round pick, might help the Patriots some in the passing game. We’ll see. The Patriots should be fine regardless. They have Tom Brady, they have a defense that should be even better with Darrelle Revis, and they play in the AFC East, a division that’s been awful for the better part of a decade.
RESPONSE: If, by your own admission, whether Wright comes through or not, the Patriots will be "fine" without Mankins, then why is he worth the $10.5mil. he was set to make this year, and the $11mil. next year? Is he going to be the guy that gets the Patriots over the hump, against Denver? Obviously not. So, why not part ways with him, try to improve the team, and add some much need cap space to boot? As for the AFC East being such a "weak division", which division has been better over the past decade? Certainly not the Indy dominated AFC South, or the recently Peyton strengthened AFC West. As for the AFC North, the Pats, save for two horrible performances in 2009 and 2012 playoff games against the Baltimore Ravens, have dominated that division...including the Steelers and Ravens, over the past decade.
They also have Belichick. He was voted the best coach in football in a new poll from ESPN’s Mike Sando, and he’s occupied that spot for most of the last 10 years, at least. As one GM told Sando, “The most important thing to me is the ability to control the offense, the defense and the special teams. You can change and you can coach multiple things and you have the ability to teach almost every position group. Then you can lose any coach you want and replace from within because the head coach is the talent. Belichick is the ultimate model of that.”
RESPONSE: Andrew "Not So" Sharp and his media brethren must be seething, knowing that BB has the respect and admiration of his peers. After all, the national media did everything it could in 2007 to destroy Belichick and his legacy, with their bogus, trumped-up spygate hogwash. Thus, articles like this to rip into BB are common.
But there’s a difference between Belichick the coach — king of maximizing his personnel and pulling together 13-win seasons every year — and Belichick the GM — king of of getting rid of key personnel, staying flexible for the future, and putting more pressure on his team in the short term.
RESPONSE: Nonsense!! BB's lone weakness as a GM lies in his evaluation of college prospects in the yearly NFL draft, particularly WRs, and DBs. Few if any are better at deciding when it's time to part ways with so-called "key personnel", and managing the salary cap. Furthermore, how is Mankins, a 32 year old OG who allowed eight (8) sacks over the second half of last season, and was manhandled by DT Terrance Knighton in the AFC title game, such a key player, anymore? The 2013 Broncos were clearly a better team than the 2013 Patriots. So, why not make changes, in hopes of remedying that situation?
One day we might make a distinction between the two when we talk about how to remember him. Especially if we look back at a team that won three Super Bowls in four years and stayed near the top, but never won another title while they got rid of key players every year, relying on a bunch of spare parts to the machine going. (Remember Reche Caldwell in the 2005 AFC title game?)
RESPONSE: Here they go again, doing or saying anything they can to tarnish the legacy of a man who should go down as the greatest football coach of all-time. He has run the entire show in New England, over more than a decade...has won three SBs, has been to five SBs, and has won 11 out of the last 13 AFC East divisional titles. He has made some personnel mistakes to be sure (almost all through the draft), but still has had a final four team throughout the great majority of the past 13 years.
The real reason this happened now came to light Wednesday.
Twitter from Ian Rapoport: Why did #Patriots end up dealing Pro Bowl G Logan Mankins? They asked him to take a pay cut. He refused (as you’d expect). Became available
It’s just another contract renegotiation that didn’t work. The same thing that happened with Randy Moss a few years ago, or last summer when they played hardball with Wes Welker. This time they were going after a pay cut for a player who played on a torn ACL in 2011, and already got “leveraged to a hilt” by New England in 2010. This happens every single year with the Patriots. They clear off more expensive proven players to take their chances with the replacements they plug in. It’s all about staying flexible for next year.
RESPONSE: No...it's not "just another contact negotiation that didn't work". And no, the same thing did not happen with Randy Moss. Moss was moved because his performance on the field had noticeably waned...not over money. As for Welker, a decision was made that, at age 32, Wes was on the downhill side of his career, and that it would be better to replace him with a younger option. As for your "lack of loyalty" argument, the cap impacts these monetary decisions. It's not that Bob Kraft doesn't want to pay, or that the Pats are cheap. The Patriots' organization knows that it has a responsibility to it's fans, and the team, to field as good a squad as possible, every season. Thus, paying player for past services takes a backseat to paying a player for what he can do for the team now. This leads to difficult choices, such as this one with Mankins.
The Patriots are compared to the Spurs so often that they can sometimes feel like twin franchises, but that’s not quite right. Imagine if the Spurs got rid of a key player around Tim Duncan/Tom Brady before every season. Or better yet, imagine Belichick running the Spurs. Is there any chance in the world he would’ve kept Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker all those years they didn’t win?
RESPONSE: Apples and oranges. The salary cap provisions are much different in the NFL, than they are in the NBA. Plus, basketball and football are completely different as to the longevity of a players' career. If BB thought that Logan Mankins would be the difference between beating Denver or not, do you really think that he would have traded him?
Of course not. He would’ve “sold high.” He always sells high.
RESPONSE: Idiotic. No team has been more successful over the past 13 years than the Patriots. So...I guess BB's decision to sell off his aging veterans "high" has been a success, right Sharp?
He always stays good, obviously, because he’s a great coach with a great quarterback in a bad division. Belichick’s great at maxing out a roster full of holes, a magic trick that makes everyone forget he was the one putting together the roster. Then in the playoffs, Tom Brady’s stuck with fewer proven stars around him as he gets older and his window closes, and we all wonder why the Patriots keep getting so close without winning at the end.
RESPONSE: More nonsense! But for a couple of bad bounces and some highly questionable officiating in the 2006 AFC title game loss in Indy, the Pats would have won six (6) championships in the salary cap era, over a 13 year period...including a perfect season. What does that have to do with playing in a supposedly weak division? To stay on top for that long, tough decisions had to be made to maintain the core of the team, and stay within the confines of the salary cap. When it comes to BB, as they used to sing about James Bond...nobody does it better!
The Mankins trade doesn’t make or break anything — the Patriots probably win 12 or 13 games regardless — but Tuesday was perfect GM Belichick. And so was the reaction from everyone in the football world. This sounds crazy, but actually …
No, at some point, all this gets stupid.
RESPONSE: Illustrative of just how much the media hates BB. Andrew "Not So" Sharp admits that the Mankins trade "doesn't make or break anything". So...why is trading this fading star to gain valuable salary cap space, needed to resign Devin McCourty, Shane Vereen, and Darrelle Revis, "stupid"? Why is trading a guy who Sharp admits the Patriots can get by without for a young TE, and a 4th round pick in 2015, stupid? It appears to me that paying $10.5 mil. for an OG who allowed eight (8) sacks over the second half of the season would be stupid.
The Patriots have one of the two best teams in the AFC and a 37-year-old quarterback; it makes no sense to cast off a key starter on offense this year just to stay flexible for next year. But this is the annual tradition now, and they keep winning division titles. It’s the Patriot Way. And maybe that’s how the coach and GM will make sense in the end. The best thing you can say about Belichick as a coach is that we almost never notice how crazy he is as a GM.
RESPONSE: Again, Mankins the "key starter" was an "above average" at best player last year. Do you really think that, like fine wine, he's going to improve with age? Yeah...such a crazy GM. The rest of the league only wishes that their GM was as crazy as the Hoodie!