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In today's News Blitz... CBA complicates New England's franchise tag on guard Logan Mankins.

** was first to report the franchise tag the Patriots placed on Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins, after New England released a statement yesterday confirming its one-year agreement with Mankins, a "fixture on [their] offensive line since we drafted him in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft," said the team.

Mankins is the first NFL player designated as a team's franchise player in this year's offseason, ESPN writes.

The tag entitles Mankins to $10.1 million once he signs the tender offer. Although, nothing's definite with the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between players and owners ending March 4. ESPNBoston breaks down several scenarios:

  • If owners lock out players, Mankins could argue that they can't restrict him under the current franchise tag, formed under an old and now obsolete CBA.
  • He will remain in limbo between March 4 and a new bargaining agreement, if they don't lock out players.
  • Mankins could still become a free agent in 2011, if the franchise tag is not part of the new CBA.

ESPNBoston also rehashes the standoff Mankins had with his team last year over contract disputes.

The *Boston Herald* says Mankins' departure from the Patriots would have been almost certain as a free agent, without the $10 million retainer. The prominent OL, who signed a five-year $6.4 million rookie contract when he was drafted by the Patriots in 2005, is making more money than all those years combined with the franchise tag, but expressed his disappointment to the Herald after this year's Pro Bowl. He would have rather signed a long-term deal.

The Herald looks at the downsides to a one-year deal:

  • If he's injured, that lessens bargaining power in future years.
  • There's no signing bonus.
  • In the event of a lockout, Mankins won't see a dime until players and owners resolve the matter.
  • A contract extension (meaning a longer-term deal) would have almost guaranteed a signing bonus right then and there.

Although Mankins has expressed his displeasure with the deal, the *Boston Globe* notes the franchise tag elevates the Pats guard to one of the five highest paid players in that position. Also, the tag was labeled "non-exclusive," meaning he can still negotiate with other teams, who would have to pay the lofty cost of two first-round draft picks, or terms to that effect.

Then again, according to NFL Players Association officials, franchise tags are worthless without a CBA, writes the Globe. Assuming a CBA can be reached prior to the kickoff of the 2011 season, however, a franchise tag could lead to a longer contract, just as the Patriots did with defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, who was tagged in last year's offseason only to sign a five-year deal days later.

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