Guard Logan Mankins is retiring, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The former Patriots great played a total of eleven seasons in the NFL.
The Buccaneers reportedly have interest in offensive lineman Nate Chandler and over the weekend Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times speculated that it was a sign that the team expected Mankins to retire. Mankins pledged to let the team know his decision before the start of free agency and he has done just that today.
Mankins finishes his playing career with a pretty impressive NFL résumé. The former first-round pick, who turns 34 later this week, earned six Pro Bowl berths and played in two Super Bowls. Unfortunately, however, he did not win a Super Bowl. He joined the Patriots the year after they won Super Bowl XXXIX and then was traded to Tampa Bay prior to New England’s 2014 championship season.
Mankins had one year left on his current contract for $7MM though that entire sum was non-guaranteed.
Former Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith is expected to become the new head coach at the University of Illinois, according to Ryan Baker of CBS Chicago (Twitter link). Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports has also confirmed the likely hire. Smith’s move back to the state of Illinois — where he coached the Bears for nine seasons — has repercussions in Tampa Bay, as Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports (Twitter link) that Smith’s contract with the Bucs contained offset language pertaining to any football job, not just those in the NFL. Therefore, Tampa is likely to going to recoup some of the $10MM it owes to Smith under the terms of his old deal.
Let’s take a look at more out from Tampa Bay and the NFL’s other South division clubs…
Free agent offensive lineman Nate Chandler was released by the Panthers earlier this week, but he’s now getting attention from another NFC South team, as Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Buccaneers are interested in Chandler. As Auman writes, Tampa’s interest in Chandler — who can play both tackle and guard — could be a sign that the club expects veteran Logan Mankins to retire. Mankins hasn’t yet made a final decision, per Auman, but he will let the Bucs know his choice before free agency starts.
Panthers cornerback Josh Norman isn’t going to accept a long-term deal that he considers to be below his market value, and he’s fine with playing out the season on the franchise tag, writes Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer. Norman won’t accept a hometown discount, as he tells Jones, but he dispensed with any notion that he would hold out of training camp in an attempt to spur Carolina into offering more money.
Safety Earl Wolff, who signed a futures contract with the Jaguars in January, was abducted by a group of armed men in Fayetteville, North Carolina on February 23, according to Thomas Pope of the Fayetteville Observer. Wolff was released unharmed, and one of alleged kidnappers was arrested on Wednesday.
General managers and head coaches around the league are speaking to the media on Wednesday and Thursday at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, and while most of them will only generally address their pending free agents or other noteworthy contract situations, a handful have revealed some interesting tidbits.
Here are a few updates from the sessions so far:
Browns head coach Hue Jackson, who said the team will take a hard-line stance when it comes to not tolerating off-field behavior like Johnny Manziel‘s, was also asked about players like Josh Gordon (suspended) and Armonty Bryant (arrested). Jackson said he has spoken to Bryant, and will meet with Gordon if and when he’s reinstated, stressing that he wants high-character players and will evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis (Twitterlinks via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com and Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal).
Jackson guaranteed that the Browns will come out of this year’s draft having picked a quarterback. However, he cautioned that the team might not use the No. 2 overall pick to select a signal-caller (Twitter link via Cabot).
Jackson conceded that if the fit is right, he would value potential free agents who had previous experience in his system (Twitter link via Nate Ulrich). Bengals wideouts Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu might fit that bill.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said today that the team doesn’t have any indication of whether veteran guard Logan Mankins is leaning toward retiring or playing in 2016. That decision won’t affect the Bucs either way though, according to Licht, who says the team expects to hear from Mankins within the next few weeks (Twitterlinks via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times).
Licht will meet with Doug Martin‘s agent this week, and said he’s optimistic about the possibility of working out a new deal for the running back (Twitter link via Stroud).
If the Bucs don’t re-sign Martin, they’ll be prepared to address the position either in free agency or the draft, says Licht (Twitter link via Stroud).
Licht expects to concentrate primarily on defensive players in the draft, but that won’t stop the Bucs from grabbing an offensive player if he’s the top player on their board (Twitter link via Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune).
Titans head coach Mike Mularkey views Brian Schwenke‘s injuries as a potential cause for concern, and said the team won’t rule out the pursuit of a veteran center (Twitter link via Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com).
Defensive tackle Al Woods is one of the Titans pending free agents that the team is talking to and wants to keep, according to Mularkey (Twitter link via McCormick).
Mularkey doesn’t believe the Titans’ moves in free agency will tip off what the team plans to do with the No. 1 pick in the draft, per Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com. “I don’t know that it’s a telltale sign — if we do this, we won’t do that,” Mularkey said.
The Titans don’t currently plan on making any more roster cuts prior to the start of free agency, Mularkey said (Twitter link via McCormick).
If the Titans ultimately decide to trade the first overall pick in the draft, they’ll be looking for a “fair deal,” not necessarily one that lines up with the old draft-pick value chart, per GM Jon Robinson (Twitter link via Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com).
“We’ll be selective and strategic,” Licht said on Thursday. “We don’t want to put ourselves into a position where if you take the wrong guy and give him too much money, it can disrupt your team. I’ve said since Day 1, we are going to build through the draft. And from Day 1, the most success we’ve had is with draft picks.
“We still believe the best way for us to go is to draft and develop players. You can’t think you’re going to put yourself over the top by signing these high-dollar guys.”
According to Stroud, the Buccaneers still intend to get involved in free agency to some extent. However, a deal like Johnson’s two years ago, which was worth $43.75MM in total, including $16MM in guaranteed money, seems unlikely. Johnson, of course, was released by Tampa Bay 12 months after signing that five-year contract.
Here’s more from Stroud on the Bucs:
There’s a good chance that Doug Martin will make it to free agency and test the open market, according to Stroud, who says that the running back is “hoping to hit the jackpot” after a 1,400-yard season. The club has had “great discussions” with Martin’s camp, per Licht, and it seems like there’s genuine mutual interest in an extension. But if the Bucs don’t meet Martin’s asking price, the only way to keep him off the open market would be to franchise him, and that would be a pricey solution — the franchise tag for RBs is expected to exceed $11MM.
As we’ve heard before, the Buccaneers are unlikely to trade Mike Glennon. Stroud suggests that an extension for the team’s backup quarterback may actually be more probable than a trade.
The Buccaneers want to keep wide receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Logan Mankins around for 2016, per Stroud. However, Mankins hasn’t yet made a final decision on whether he’ll continue his career, and there’s no guarantee the club wouldn’t want to make some adjustments to Jackson’s and Mankins’ contracts if they return. Verner and linebacker Bruce Carter are also candidates for potential restructures.
Veteran Buccaneers guard Logan Mankins admitted after the Buccaneers’ loss to the Panthers on Sunday that he may have played his final NFL game, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. Mankins has yet to make a decision, but confirmed that he’s considering the possibility of calling it a career.
“I don’t know,” Mankins said. “I am at the point in my career where I’m going to take a little time and evaluate what I want to do with my family, with myself and my career and see where it goes.”
Asked if Sunday’s game would be his last as an NFL player, Mankins replied, “It could. It might not be. I don’t know yet. A wise guy always use to tell some of the teams I was on to never make a rushed decision after the season. Take a little time to think about it.”
If he does decide to retire, Mankins will finish his playing career with a pretty impressive NFL résumé. The former first-round pick, who turns 34 this March, earned six Pro Bowl berths and played in two Super Bowls, though he didn’t win one — he joined the Patriots the year after they won Super Bowl XXXIX, and then was traded to Tampa Bay prior to New England’s 2014 championship season.
Mankins has one year left on his current contract, so if he does decide to continue playing, the Buccaneers will have a decision of their own to make. The Fresno State alum is on the books for $7MM in 2016, but that entire amount is non-guaranteed.
The Buccaneers are coming off a 2-14 season, but all eyes will be on Lovie Smith and company over the next weeks, as the 2015 NFL draft nears, since Tampa Bay holds the first overall pick. With most observers, reporters, and fans believing the Bucs will snag Jameis Winston, that pick may be lacking a little intrigue, but speaking to the media today, Smith didn’t fully commit to the Florida State quarterback. Here’s what the Bucs head coach had to say about Winston and a handful of other topics:
Smith said today that he’s never done so much research on a player as the Bucs have done on Winston, tweets John Kryk of the Toronto Sun. The team has also done plenty of work on MarcusMariota, but has spent more time on Winston, tweets Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune. Bucs ownership has given the OK to both players (link via ESPN.com).
Odds are good that either Winston or Mariota will be Tampa Bay’s pick at No. 1, but Smith belives “you have to keep your options open.” According to the head coach, the Bucs would be “very comfortable” selecting one of the quarterbacks, but there’s no rush to make the decision yet, and Smith points out that “there are mega-deals that have come up” in past drafts (allTwitterlinks via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times).
More from Smith on having the first overall pick, via Stroud (Twitter link): “We realize how important that position is and very seldom do you get a chance to have your pick of the litter like that.”
Putting a bow on the No. 1 pick talk, Smith indicated that it wouldn’t be an erroneous assumption to forecast Winston as the first overall pick, tweets Stroud. However, the team continues to go through the research process.
With the Bucs preparing to draft a quarterback, one signal-caller on their roster has drawn trade interest. According to Smith, teams have inquired on a potential Mike Glennon deal (Twitter link via Stroud). I’d imagine that’s something the Bucs will consider as the draft nears if they’re comfortable with Winston (or Mariota). For now though, Glennon and Seth Lobato are the only QBs on the roster, so the team may have to sign a veteran if Glennon is dealt, and there aren’t many still on the market.
Asked about how much longer veteran guard Logan Mankins wants to continue playing, Smith replied, “Forever. He’ll tell you forever.” So it doesn’t sound as if retirement is imminent for the former Patriot (Twitter link via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald).
Earlier today, we rounded up the noteworthy comments made by a handful of head coaches and general managers who spoke to reporters today in Indianapolis at the NFL’s scouting combine. Wednesday’s press conferences will continue through to about 3:30pm central time, and we’ll keep providing recaps of the highlights from those sessions. Here’s the latest:
Bears head coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace:
Asked about whether he has decided to proceed with Jay Cutler as the team’s quarterback, Fox replied, “We’re not up against a deadline. … We’ll keep you posted.” Fox later continued: “I don’t think there’s any question there’s ability and talent there but there’s a lot more that goes into it.”
Like Fox, Pace didn’t put his full support behind either Cutler or Marshall — the new GM didn’t call Cutler the team’s starting QB, and said the team would “take our time” with evaluations. As for Marshall, Pace suggested football needs to be the wideout’s top priority, in reference to Marshall’s 2014 gig with “Inside the NFL.”
The Bears head coach confirmed that he met with Josh McCown today and that the club has interest in him. “He’s the right kind of guy… that you want on your football team,”Fox said of the former Buccaneer. Pace also had praise for McCown, suggesting he’s capable of being a starter or backup for an NFL team.
Fox and his staff are still evaluating players like Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs, so there’s no decision on whether to bring them back, but they’ve been “great Bears,” says the head coach. Pace added that the decisions on Tillman and Briggs will be big ones for the team.
Buccaneers GM Jason Licht:
The Bucs are leaning toward keeping the first overall pick, but are open to all options and aren’t closing any doors, according to Licht. As for who the Bucs will select with that No. 1 pick? “We have a favorite, but we want to let the process play out,”said the GM, adding that it would be an “insult” to say it’s 50-50 between Jameis Winston and MarcusMariota based on the team’s research and draft meetings to date.
For what it’s worth, Lovie Smith said earlier today that the Bucs would be comfortable making Winston the “face of the franchise,” and previous reports have indicated that Tampa Bay prefers the Florida State signal-caller. Licht said today the Bucs will have “several meetings” with both Winston and Mariota.
Veteran guard Logan Mankins is part of the solution in Tampa Bay, not part of the problem, according to Licht, who says Mankins has a future with the team.
While Licht reiterated the team’s support for Mike Glennon, he said he remains open-minded about discussing trades and moving players in general.
Titans GM Ruston Webster and head coach Ken Whisenhunt:
Although the QBs are receiving most of the attention at the top of the draft, Webster said today that there are several other players the Titans feel are worthy of the second overall pick. The lines of communication are also open for Tennessee in terms of trading the selection to another team. Whisenhunt added that a “defensive difference-maker” would be an option for the club at No. 2.
The general manager expects the club to try to fill some holes through free agency, but cautioned that the most effective way to build a strong roster is through the draft.
While the Titans will work through their defensive coaching roles this spring, Whisenhunt said today that new senior assistant Dick LeBeau will have control of the unit, and that defensive coordinator Ray Hortonis comfortable with LeBeau’s hiring and his role.
Bills head coach Rex Ryan:
Even after signing Richie Incognito, the guard and tackle positions are priorities for Ryan, who wants to make the offensive line an area of strength for the Bills.
Ryan said that he’s excited about E.J. Manuel, who “has some potential,” but finding a long-term answer at quarterback remains a top priority for the club.
There have been a number of NFL trades since the 2014 NFL Draft ended in May, with 13 players and 11 future draft picks switching teams. The Patriots were the most active on the trade market, participating in five deals, while the Buccaneers ultimately made three trades, including a pair with New England.
Let’s quickly remind ourselves of the trades made post-2014 NFL draft…
That leaves six players who played more than 300 snaps following their trade, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required): Mankins, McClain, Ayers, Harvin, Wright and Burley. So, which of those players ended up having the biggest impact on their new squad?
Mankins led that group with 937 snaps, and his 4.8 rating on PFF ranked him as the third-best offensive player on Tampa Bay (however, he only ranked as the 22nd-best guard in the league). The 32-year-old was still very reliable for the Bucs, starting all 16 games.
Meanwhile, the player he was traded for ended up being a red-zone force for the Patriots. Wright finished the season with 26 catches for 259 yards, a far cry from his 54 catch, 571-yard season in 2013. The 24-year-old did set a career-high in touchdowns, though, catching six. Across the division, the Jets were hoping Harvin could provide a spark to their struggling offense. The wideout compiled 29 catches for 350 yards and a touchdown in eight games for New York. The skill player also added 22 rushes for 110 yards.
McClain had a bounce back season in 2014 following his one-year retirement. The former first-round pick made 13 appearances for the Cowboys, finishing with 81 tackles, two interruptions, a forced fumble and a sack. He also ranked eighth in PFF’s list of the top inside linebackers. The other linebacker on that list, Ayers, filled in adequately for the injured Jerod Mayo. Ayers played in nine games for the Patriots, including four starts, compiling 20 tackles and four sacks.
Finally, Burley managed to carve out some playing time in a very deep Seattle secondary. In 13 games, the 24-year-old compiled 25 tackles and an interception, while also earning a positive rating from PFF. His 1.7 rating was actually higher than teammates Byron Maxwell, although he played about half the snaps.
So, focusing on the six players who had played more than 300 snaps, which player acquired via trade had the biggest impact on their new club? Should one of the omitted players have made the list? Let us know in the comments.
Cardinals defensive tackle Tommy Kelly was cut by the Patriots in late August, but the veteran doesn’t seem to have any hard feelings. In fact, he actually sounds like he’s happier not playing in New England, and the 33-year-old questioned the team’s motivation in an interview with Darren Urban on the Cardinals website:
“I couldn’t take busting my tail every day getting to a game and them taking me out of the game for someone who I know isn’t better than me, because he’s a cheaper option. Are we worried about money here? Or are we worried about winning?”
Kelly isn’t the only player reportedly questioning the Patriots decision-making. Read below to find out who else may have issues with BillBelichick and company…
If the Patriots continue to scuttle, the team will have an interesting decision to make with their franchise quarterback, writes Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. If Brady is on the roster for the last game of this season, the final three years of his contract become fully guaranteed. When that inevitably happens, the Patriots will have to decide how much longer they want to roll with the future Hall of Famer.
The Jets could find themselves in an interesting situation this offseason if they don’t return to their winning ways soon. If general manager John Idzik fires head coach Rex Ryan, one likely candidate he will seek to replace the embattled Jets’ coach could be Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, writes Gary Myers of the New York Daily News. Idzik, who came from Seattle’s front office, would look to hire his former colleague Quinn, who is represented by former Jets’ general manager Mike Tannenbaum, whom Idzik took over for two offseasons ago.
Here are some other links from around the AFC East:
While we are talking about the possibility of the Jets firing Ryan, Pat Kirwin of CBS Sports would like everyone to know that would be a dumb idea, as he said on Sirius XM Radio (via Twitter).
About one month after the Logan Mankins‘ trade, the Patriots‘ have not fallen apart on the offensive line, writes Jen McCaffery of MassLive.com. While the Dolphins were able to disturb Tom Brady, the line has been better since, but faces a tough test against the Chiefs’ pass rushthis week. Tight end Tim Wright, who the team acquired in return for Mankins, has four catches on five targets this season.
The Patriots will not only be prepared for the pass rush, but must be ready for everything to come away with a win Monday night according to head coach Bill Belichick, writes Kevin Duffy of MassLive.com. “You know you have to go out and play a good football team against an Andy Reid coached team,” says Belichick. “You can’t expect that they’re going to make a lot of mistakes. You’re going to have to earn everything. I think that’s always the mark of a good team.”
The Dolphins‘ are looking to right the ship as they travel to London to face an 0-3 Raiders team, writes Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. Multiple starters have been critical of the coaching staff through the first three games, even with the upset victory over the Patriots in week one. With a loss, starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill‘s future with the team could be in jeopardy.
Bills‘ offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is trying to keep his receivers happy, despite struggles from quarterback E.J. Manuel, writes Matthew Fairburn of Syracuse.com. Hackett notes that there are fewer opportunities to go around in the passing game this season, as the Bills have become more run-heavy on offense.