When the Denver Post reported today that the Patriots had sent a letter to restricted free agent Logan Mankins informing him about their rights to reduce his salary if he didn't sign his restricted free agent tender by Monday, it raised some questions.
One blog commenter, RBro83, asked: "Are such letters mandated by the current CBA? Are they standard practice? Or are they seen as a statement by the team if they are sent?"
I spoke with one player agent and solicited an informed opinion, and this is what I learned.
When teams send the letter, it is usually done as a procedural matter to keep that option on the table. If the letter is not sent, teams would no longer have that option to reduce a restricted free agent's salary, and that would willingly be giving up negotiating leverage.
It is highly unlikely that a team would take the step of reducing a restricted free agent's salary because of the damage that could do to the long-term relationship between the player and team.
In the case of the Patriots and Mankins, consider these remarks by owner Robert Kraft from last month: "I really hope Logan will be with us for the long term. That's our objective."