FOXBORO — The banter, either live or leaked anonymously from both sides, between Logan Mankins and Patriots management, has to end.
Unfortunately, so does the player's tenure here in New England.
Mankins' holdout with the Patriots continues, to the point now that it might almost be an indefinite, extended period.
New England's Pro Bowl offensive guard is prepared to sit until he must return or lose the year of service time at midseason.
The stand is warranted. He has been an exceptional performer on the line since he was drafted out of Fresno State in 2005.
Mankins has started 80 of 80 games since he got here.
The former rodeo cowboy - he was once an aspiring team roper - remains a first-class individual, a top character guy.
So why do I feel like he has to go? Mankins' retains value right now, but the team is currently flush in his skill set.
New England can afford not to have him, at least at the price he seeks and deserves in today's market.
Guards are available everywhere. In an offense where you worry about Tom Brady's health, first and foremost, that most grave danger comes from the edge, not through the center-guard "A" gap.
This offense doesn't need a John Hannah or Steve Hutchinson road-grader type of offensive guard.
A solid journeyman, with no penchant for penalties, can suffice.
Sunday's win over Cincinnati, albeit an over an unprepared batch of Bengals, was a perfect example.
Brady, who wasn't sacked, touched the turf just once. He had light years to throw and made the most scrumptious choices from his receiver smorgasborg.
The offense moved brilliantly.
Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell, Nick Kaczur, Quinn Ojinaka, the Patriots can patch and fill inside with the best of them.
Market Mankins, now 28, while you have the opportunity. The strategy can work.
New England has already shown the will to move high-priced talent as we saw as recently as a year ago with Richard Seymour.
Far be it from me to help the Pats with their organizational work, but as I begin my preparation for Sunday's 4:15 showdown with the New York Jets, I'm scanning boxscores for the sack totals.
The Packers allowed five sacks Sunday, the Lions, who lost Matt Stafford because of it, Giants and Titans all allowed four.
Check the depth charts out there for starters.
But make the deal sing and bring somebody back, a physical linebacker or pass rusher, a trusty cover man, somebody that can contribute right now.
Bringing back draft picks is not the answer, not for this franchise, not this year anyway.
Mankins will be tough to lose. The kid has been a heck of a football, again from the first snap.
But at some point a stalemate has to be called for the betterment of both parties involved.
That time is now.
You can email Hector Longo at firstname.lastname@example.org.