Pats warn Mankins of tender deadline

The New England Patriots sent offensive lineman Logan Mankins a letter regarding their right to reduce his salary if he doesn't sign his restricted free agent tender by Tuesday's deadline, the Denver Post reports, but the move is largely a procedural matter and it is unlikely the team would take such a drastic step.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said last month of Mankins, "I really hope Logan will be with us for the long term. That's our objective."

Mankins has yet to sign his $3.168 million tender. If he doesn't sign the tender by Monday, the team has the right to reduce his salary to $1.54 million. In order to retain that right, teams need to notify a player in writing, according to a player agent. Failing to send the letter would mean losing considerable negotiating leverage for the club.

But given Kraft's history and his on-the-record comments regarding Mankins, such a move, which likely would seriously damage the team's relationship with Mankins, is a long shot.

In addition to the tender deadline, Tuesday also is the first day of the Patriots' mandatory minicamp.

Mankins has skipped the team's voluntary offseason program because of dissatisfaction with his contract situation, according to his agent Frank Bauer. While the Patriots have struck extensions with other players, Mankins has seen little to no movement toward a new deal.

Mankins, who signed a five-year contract as a rookie in 2005, was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this year. But his situation was altered by the change to an uncapped environment, as players with four and five years of experience reverted to restricted free agent status.

It is unclear if the Patriots told Mankins they would reduce his salary, or if they were simply making him aware that it is within their rights to do so.

The Denver Post article said the Broncos had sent a similar letter to restricted free agent Elvis Dumervil.

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.