A few quick-hit thoughts from the Patriots placing the franchise tag on guard Logan Mankins today (as reported by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter):
Patriots point of view. This was expected. The Patriots protect one of their top assets, allowing the sides more time to discuss a long-term deal. Had the Patriots not placed the tag on Mankins, it would have allowed Mankins to test the free-agent market with no restrictions, making it more likely that Mankins would sign sign elsewhere. Now that Mankins is tagged, another team is unlikely to sign him to an offer sheet and give up draft-pick compensation to the Patriots.
Mankins' point of view. Mankins prefers a long-term deal because it includes more guaranteed up-front money, but if the sides can't strike one, he would earn a projected $10.1 million on a one-year term. That's more than Mankins made in his first six years in the NFL. Considering that Saints guard Jahri Evans earned $26 million in the first three years of the deal he signed last offseason -- which is considered a comparable to Mankins' situation -- the franchise tag isn't entirely terrible for Mankins. He could follow a Walter Jones-type route and play on the franchise tag for consecutive years, earning his big money that way. It's not the desired route, because the risk is assumed by the player to make it through a season healthy, but there are cases where a player can maximize his earning power doing it that way.
NFL labor situation. Because of the uncertain labor situation, there is a disagreement among owners and the players association on the franchise tag. The owners believe they can use it. The players believe it's not an option because there is no collective bargaining agreement for 2011. If owners lock out players after March 4, the NFL players association believes players who are restricted by the tag have a strong legal case to earn unrestricted free agency. The thought process is that those players can't be restricted by the tag at the same time owners lock them out. So this could be something to watch with Mankins in the months to come.