Sunday is the deadline for the club to send Mankins a letter stating their intent to place him on the roster exempt list. The team has to do that to reserve the right to put him on that list, a move the Patriots can executed starting at midnight on the day of their second preseason game, which is Thursday.
If the club puts Mankins on that list, he'll have to sit out three games after he signs before joining the roster. Preseason games do count, so if, say, he signed before the third preseason game, he'd be eligible after Week 1. The real pressure point here comes in midseason -- Mankins needs to be on the roster for six games to accrue the season towards free agency. If he's on the roster exempt list, he'll need to sign before the club's eighth game (Week 9) to play in its 11th contest.
Asked if the letter has come, agent Frank Bauer said, "We haven't got it yet, but it'll come." Then asked where the negotiations stand, Bauer said he has heard "Not a word" from the team. "They don't care. ... I would expect them to do everything nasty that they can," he added.
"They have totally lost this player mentally," Bauer said. "For this young man to work like he has and play for the club for five years, and be promised he'd be taken care of, and to throw the offer they did across the table? It was never, ever a five-year deal. They wanted six years, they wanted seven. They have to do what they have to do, and we'll do what we have to do."
My understanding is that the offer on the table was a five-year extension off his RFA tender from this year (before it was chopped down), and would legitimately make him the third-highest paid guard in the league, with the requisite guarantees and bonuses. That offer was made after Saints guard Jahri Evans got his seven-year, $56.7 million deal in May, and is now off the table.
"This deal and the Jahri Evans deal are apples and oranges," Bauer said.
What's most clear is that there's plenty of fence-mending that needs to happen, and on both sides. If the Patriots do send that letter (while Bauer fully expects it, it's not clear whether the Patriots have or not), another line will clearly be drawn here.
Bottom line: There's really no endgame in sight.
"These things can change daily," said Bauer. "But they're taking this back to the old school, like it's '80s again. People usually work this stuff out."