The Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday acquired New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins in exchange for tight end Tim Wright and an undisclosed draft pick.
A three-time captain with the Patriots, Mankins has earned six Pro Bowl berths and five All-Pro selections in his career. He also was selected to the New England Patriots All-2000s and 50th Anniversary teams.
In 2012, he won the Ed Block Courage Award, given annually to players who are voted by their teammates as role models of inspiration, sportsmanship and courage.
“Logan Mankins is everything we would ever want in a football player,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said in a statement. “It is hard to imagine a better player at his position, a tougher competitor or a person to represent our program.
“He is one of the all-time great Patriots and the best guard I ever coached. Logan brought a quiet but unmistakable presence and leadership that will be impossible to duplicate.”
The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Mankins was a first-round pick out of Fresno State in 2005. He has started all 130 games he has played in during his nine-year career. He has made 17 postseason appearances, including two Super Bowl appearances.
The 32-year-old Mankins should provide the Buccaneers with some immediate help on the offensive line, which has been short-handed this preseason. On Monday, Tampa Bay met with free agent Richie Incognito.
“We were looking at all options,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s something we’ve been talking about since first week of camp. We feel very fortunate. Logan is a very good player. I’m a firsthand witness to what he means to the locker room.”
Wright played in all 16 games for the Buccaneers last season, starting eight. He compiled 54 receptions for 571 yards and five touchdowns.
Wright joined Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. He gives the Patriots insurance as Rob Gronkowski and Michael Hoomanawanui recover from injuries.
Wright also will allow the Patriots to use a two tight-end set that wreaked havoc on opposing defenses during the 2011 and parts of the 2012 seasons.
The Patriots paid a steep price to get Wright and the decision to trade Mankins was a tough one for Belichick.
“Unfortunately,” Belichick said, “this is the time of year when difficult decisions have to be made — and this is one of the most difficult we will ever make — but like every other decision it was made for what we feel is in the best interests of the team.”
New England still will rely on tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer to anchor the offensive line.
But now the trade of Mankins opens the door for a couple of veterans to make their mark with quarterback Tom Brady. Last year’s starting center, Ryan Wendell, could be called on to slide into Mankins’ spot.
Wendell arrived in New England in 2008 as a free agent. Since then, he has done everything coach Bill Belichick has asked, and even more.
“He has worked his way from a consistent practice squad player to a roster player to playing more plays, or whatever it was, played as many plays as anybody in the league did (last season),” Belichick said of Wendell, who started all 16 games for the Patriots in 2012 and 2013 and played a league-high 1,231 snaps last season. “I’d say it’s been about as big of a progression as really any player could have … guys that weren’t even on the practice squad that eventually became starting players in the NFL. That’s a pretty big jump.”
Wendell is a grinder, a polished run blocker who survives on effort and desire in the passing game. He was rewarded in March with a two-year, $4.55 million deal despite not performing at a peak level in 2013.
The Patriots could also call on a couple of younger players, tackle Jordan Devey and second-year player Josh Kline, who made one start last season at left guard.
It wouldn’t surprise some if Belichick, who has a history of reclaiming other team’s problem players, reaches out to Incognito, the former Miami Dolphins guard.
With the acquisition of Mankins, the Buccaneers moved quickly ahead to trim the roster to 75.
New England also got down to the 75-man limit by releasing six players and placing two others on injured reserve.
Rookie RB Tyler Gaffney and rookie LB Cameron Gordon were put on injured reserve. The Patriots also cut former University of Maine wide receiver Derrick Johnson, DL Ben Bass, DB Travis Hawkins, LB Deontae Skinner, DB Jemea Thomas and WR Wilson Van Hooser.