The New England Patriots made headlines today with a huge trade. They will be sending guard Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for tight end Tim Wright and a fourth-round draft pick. At first glance, it looks like the Patriots will be filling a huge need with this deal given the injury history of Rob Gronkowski. In reality though, they have introduced a major hole into the equation as a result of this deal.
Despite the Patriots need for a tight end behind Gronkowski, Mankins was a sure thing on the interior offensive line for New England. With an interior line consisting of guys like Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, Jon Halapio and Josh Kline, among others, the Patriots have very few reliable options left. If the Patriots struggle in pass protection, it ultimately doesn’t matter what they have at tight end. If a quarterback doesn’t have time to get rid of the ball, he is doomed — even the immortal Tom Brady.
If the Patriots felt so inclined, they could have de-emphasized the tight end position (with the exception of Gronk when healthy) and the offense wouldn’t have missed a beat. Now, they have introduced the added uncertainty of losing perhaps their best offensive lineman on the roster. There is no guarantee that Wright– although I do like him as a player– will be able to grasp the New England playbook or even be productive for the team.
While I understand why the Patriots made this move, it was too risky. Mankins gives you something that Wright can’t. He doesn’t help you protect Brady. He is the best offensive player on the roster and you have to keep him upright. Losing Mankins in this deal could ultimately hurt more than it helps.