ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is reporting at this hour that the last two remaining restricted free agents not to sign their tenders and join their respective teams – New England’s Logan Mankins and San Diego’s Vincent Jackson — have been advised by the NFL Players Association to report to their clubs.
Citing several sources, Mortensen writes that Mankins would return to New England by Nov. 16 at 4 p.m., which is just after the 10th week of the season. Jackson must report to the Chargers sooner (Oct. 31) because they elected to place the receiver on the roster exempt list, meaning he would sit out three unpaid games before beginning the six paid games players need to earn an accrued season.
The sources told Mortensen that the players would follow the NFLPA’s recommendation.
Mortensen’s report echoes that of NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora, who has been reporting the same for both players.
Analysis: It has always been in Mankins’s best interests to return by the Nov. 16 deadline – the reason he is in the predicament he is now, as a restricted free agent, is because of the rules of the uncapped season. Under the present rule, only players who had six or more seasons could become unrestricted free agents, not those with four-plus years as was the rule previously.
Mankins currently has five seasons (as does Jackson). Mankins essentially has no choice but to report to the Patriots because with no labor agreement in place, there’s no way of knowing if the rule will revert to back to four years or remain at six. With no labor agreement in place, New England could present Mankins with an RFA tender again next year.