The window for NFL teams to designate franchise players has been open for two days, but the Patriots have not yet slapped the tag on one of their players.
It is widely believed that if and when New England uses the tag, it will be placed on left guard Logan Mankins, a move that will not go over well with the 28-year-old All-Pro.
Though he would make roughly $10.5 million in 2011 (the average of the top five highest-paid offensive linemen in the league) if he is tagged, Mankins told the Boston Herald after a Pro Bowl practice in Hawaii last month that he “wouldn’t be happy” about being franchised.
“But we’ll see what happens,” he said. “I would never say the door is totally shut. But the way it’s looking right now, I don’t see them trying to keep me, unless it’s with the franchise tag.”
While Mankins seems to have one foot out the door and is open to the idea of becoming a free agent, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said last week at the Super Bowl that he wants to keep Mankins.
“Logan Mankins is one of the best players on the team,” Kraft said. “I just personally want to say, I hope he’s with us for a long term, and we’re going to try to do whatever we have to do to make sure that happens.”
Kraft would not say whether the team would indeed franchise Mankins or whether there have been recent discussions between Mankins’s agent, Frank Bauer, and the Patriots on a long-term contract.
There is another issue to consider: While the NFL believes it is within its rights to franchise players for the 2011 season even if the collective bargaining agreement expires, the Players’ Association disagrees and says the tags are meaningless without a new CBA.
The NFLPA has threatened legal action on behalf of tagged players.