A week into the season and restricted free agent Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins' future remains as unpredictable and uncertain as it did the day in June the disgruntled former first-round pick asked to be traded out of New England.
The story took another twist on opening day as a story on ESPN.com broke regarding a possible long-term agreement between Mankins and the Patriots blew up a couple weeks ago over, of all things, an apology.
According to the report multiple sources told ESPN that nearly two weeks before reaching an extension with Tom Brady, Mankins and agent Frank Bauer were in Foxborough under the premise they'd be finalizing their own big-money deal. Apparently the Patriots asked Mankins to call owner Robert Kraft to apologize for the volatile comments he made in June about the organization. Mankins obliged, but then reportedly balked some 90-minutes later when the team asked that he also issue a public apology. The deal blew up and, according to ESPN.com, Mankins once again "no longer wants to play in New England."
A day after the report, Kraft appeared on WEEI radio in Boston to dispute the facts as presented by ESPN.
"There is a misconception that we had a deal with Logan Mankins," Kraft said. "We have never had a deal with Logan Mankins."
Kraft acknowledged that Mankins did apologize to him for the comments he made and that he accepted his apology. He went on to do something the Patriots rarely do, go public with the details of discussions with players.
"I hate violating a private conversation but I think it's worthy because it speaks to this issue," Kraft said. "I got a call three weeks ago, maybe, from Logan and he apologized to me for the comments he made in the public media. He said he regretted he did it. He knew in retrospect they weren't true and I accepted his apology because he's a very high quality guy.
"I also said, 'Logan it would be nice if that was made public because I'm hoping we do a deal with you and I don't want people to think that the way you do a deal is to say something that is not true or involve ownership.'"
Regardless of the he-said, he-said tales that have come out of late, Mankins remains in limbo. While the Patriots were beating the Bengals on opening day, in part because of solid protection and run blocking from the offensive line, the Pro Bowl guard was on the outside looking in.
Right now the team doesn't seem sorry that it hasn't reached a big-money deal with its best offensive linemen over the last few years. But at some point will Mankins be sorry that he hasn't found a way to get a deal done and get to work?
The only man who can answer that is Mankins, a boots-and-jeans guy who's spent the bulk of the summer working on his California ranch while the Patriots were moving on without him in Foxborough. Depending on who you believe, that may or may not change anytime soon.
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