<
>

Logan Mankins' retirement sparks memories of his time with Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Former New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins has informed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that he is retiring after 11 seasons in the NFL, sources confirmed to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan. As ESPN.com's news story details, Mankins spent the first nine seasons of his career in New England before playing the last two in Tampa.

Some thoughts and recollections:

A reach at 32 ... but not really: When the Patriots selected Mankins with the final pick of the first round in 2005, it had many draft analysts confounded as he wasn't viewed by many as a first-round pick, But he quickly proved any doubters wrong. Although he was a left tackle at Fresno State, the Patriots inserted Mankins right into the mix at left guard (he was insurance in case left tackle Matt Light left in free agency) and he held that position for the next nine years.

Had to buy his first suit for introductory news conference: The Patriots hold a ceremonial introduction with their first-round pick each year, and one of the unforgettable parts of Mankins' introduction was that he said he had to buy his first suit for the occasion. After all, there wasn't much reason to have a suit while growing up on a cattle ranch in Catheys Valley, California.

At odds with Robert Kraft: Mankins is one of the few players who have publicly called out owner Robert Kraft and the organization in a contract dispute that centered around restricted free agency and the NFL's season without a salary cap. "This is about principle with me and keeping your word and how you treat people. This is what I thought the foundation of the Patriots was built on," he said at the time. The sides later mended fences and Mankins signed an extension.

Toughness off the charts: Mankins reportedly played the 2011 season on a torn ACL after sustaining the injury in the season opener. He summed it up this way: "Put a brace on, tape aspirin to it, and go."

Belichick calls him best guard he's coached: The Patriots traded Mankins before the 2014 season with salary considerations in mind. As Bill Belichick said, "Logan Mankins is everything we would ever want in a football player. 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. Unfortunately, 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."

Missed out on a Super Bowl ring: Mankins arrived after the team's Super Bowl championship in 2004 and was traded before the Super Bowl title in 2014. When he played in Tampa Bay the last two years, his wife and children remained home in Massachusetts, which added a challenging wrinkle to the latter stages of his career. While those were two non-winning seasons in Tampa, I don't sense that Mankins regrets any decisions he made (e.g. not accepting a pay cut) that led to the surprising trade to Tampa Bay.