The New England Patriots’ decision to trade All-Pro offensive guard Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday came as a shock to most, even his former teammates. Players are well aware that the NFL is a business, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to disappointment.
On the surface, most of the Patriots players said all the right things. Julian Edelman said he trusts Bill Belichick to do what’s best for the team. Devin McCourty said the team simply has to “move on.” But according to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, there was no mistaking the mood in the locker room.
But to say that Mankins’s teammates were shocked Tuesday is an understatement of Belichickian proportion. They openly discussed in the locker room how surprised they were by the move, and Darrelle Revis acknowledged that “the atmosphere was a little down” at practice.
A league source connected to several Patriots players used a “p” word that rhymes with “missed” to describe the mood in the locker room Tuesday. Many players still felt that Mankins was the best lineman on the team, the source said.
There’s a difference between being “pissed” and being disappointed. Disappointment would mean the players are sad to lose a team leader, great player and good friend. The fact that Volin says they were pissed would seem to indicate not everyone feels Belichick made the right decision.
Mankins was reportedly traded because he refused to take a pay cut. The Patriots have never been afraid to make an unpopular decision if it helps their financial situation, and there’s a good chance they are looking to free up a large chunk of salary cap space to sign Darrelle Revis to a long-term contract.
Could they have waited until after the season? For financial reasons, yes. But Belichick must have some young linemen he is confident in that he wants to start developing now. Either that, or he loves the attention he gets for being an evil genius. The Patriots fan in me leans toward the latter.