Making sense of Mankins' exodus

New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins listens to a reporter's question during a football news conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Players reported to training camp with their first team practice scheduled for Thursday July 24th. (AP Photo)

What does Logan Mankins have in common with Lawyer Milloy, Deion Branch, Asante Samuel, Richard Seymour, Wes Welker and Logan Mankins?

Besides all being very, very good and all having their fingerprints all over the Patriots Dynasty the last 15 seasons, they have another common denominator.

Too much money.

Or let me clarify: They either made too much money or were going to make too much money. And that imbalance was so high that four of those five were traded (Branch, Seymour and Mankins) or released (Milloy) in September, which never happens in the NFL.

Samuel and Welker were let go and replaced, though not very well.

The person who decided that that imbalance in money was too much to deal with, even as a new season was upon he and his franchise, was New England Patriots football CEO Bill Belichick.

And it was Mankins' turn in 2014. The "ultimate" Patriot, at least according to his teammates, was scheduled to make $6.25 million this season and $6.75 million next season. Again ... too much money, according to Belichick.

The lesson is very, very simple. Players are not paid on past performance in Foxboro. They are paid, or slotted, based on their most recent production and "guess-timate."

The guess here is Belichick wanted Mankins' "number to be closer to $3 million, maybe even less. And his argument is that despite some incredible years and laying-it-all-on-the-line for this franchise, the Patriots will be a better team if he made his true worth.

Mind you, this does not appear to be good timing. The season starts in 10 days and the offensive line is like synchronized swimming ... everybody had better be in synch or bad things happens. And with nine seasons, albeit rugged ones, the Patriots lose their most important veteran (and good guy).

But then we remember Milloy's exodus, which looked like an unmitigated disaster -- remember ESPN's Tom Jackson said the Patriots players "hate their coach!" -- somehow wasn't such a big deal as the Patriots won the Super Bowl over Carolina five months later. Of course, they had a legitimate replacement, Rodney Harrison, as the defensive quarterback at strong safety.

As for the other guys, the Patriots were always Super Bowl contenders after Branch, Seymour and Welker left (Brady was hurt in 2008 after Samuel signed with the Eagles). So their losses didn't appear to be as catastrophic as they first appeared, though I will argue Branch was "the" missing piece of a 2006 Super Bowl victory, which never happened when the Patriots blew a 21-3 lead against the Colts in the AFC Championship.

The point is Belichick must feel that there is a replacement for Mankins on the roster, who at worst, will be 90 percent of Mankins' best. He must, right?

Belichick realizes better than anyone that the "dynasty," as we know it, as Super Bowl contenders "every" year, is on the back nine. And we're talking near the back of the back nine. 

This $6 million gain in cap space might be the impetus for re-signing Darrelle Revis to a whopping contract, which will be at the top of the pay scale, and will definitely be worth the investment. At least, Patriots fans hope so.

Mankins was a true Patriot. Belichick acknowledged such in his press release almost immediately after it was announced.

The cherry on top might be the tight end the Patriots acquired, Tim Wright. He appears to be Aaron Hernandez's replacement -- a year late I might add -- which means he is a matchup nightmare for defensive backs in the middle of the field.

But Mankins will be missed. He was a good guy, always pleasant. But, in the end, he made too much money, which is always a ticket out of Foxboro. Always.

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.

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