The New England Patriots traded their long-time All-Pro guard Logan Mankins today in exchange for a fourth round pick and tight end Tim Wright.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 26, 2014
The draft pick involved in the Pats/Bucs trade is a 4th rounder. Pats had been seeking a restructured deal w/Mankins, set to make $6.5M
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) August 26, 2014
In typical Patriot fashion, the team chose to move on from a veteran just in time to save some money and gain some assets in the process. Mankins, a staple on the Patriots line, protected Tom Brady fiercely for years helping keep defenders away from Brady’s blind side while addressing any defender who came at Brady a little to hard (often the first guy in a scuffle resulting from a Brady incident). Mankins, a five time All-Pro, would seem to be a significant loss for the Patriots, but they’ve prepared themselves well by acquiring linemen consistently over the past few years.
The Bengals will face the Patriots in week five this year. Even having prepared well, losing Mankins should allow the Bengals interior linemen, such as Geno Atkins, to collapse the pocket a bit easier. But on the other side of this deal was Tim Wright and the Bengals will need to be prepared for him.
Tim Wright is a second year tight end out of Rutgers; a favorite school of the Patriots and one that has produced quality Patriots such as Devin McCourty and Logan Ryan. Wright enjoyed a very successful rookie year with the Buccaneers producing 54 catches for 571 yards and 5 TDs despite receiving passes from the likes of Josh Freeman and Mike Glennon. Wright, 6’4″22o pounds, is the type of tight end complement the Patriots have been looking for to match the skills of fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski. They have enjoyed great success with “move” tight ends in the past and they may have acquired this type of target once more in Wright.
The Bengals’ defense had an incredible year in 2013 when finishing at the top of the AFC and third in the NFL. But one weak spot in their defense was their inability to deal with talented tight ends. They were convincingly exploited by Jordan Cameron when facing the Browns while also struggling with San Diego’s tight end duo of Ladarius Green and Antonio Gates and Baltimore’s Dennis Pitta. Patriots’ star tight end Rob Gronkowski has been on the mend this off-season, but is looking healthy and is participating in 11-on-11’s in practice. Even if he misses the beginning of the season, he should be ready for the Bengals in week five. The Bengals will need to be prepared for two talented tight ends come October as the Patriots will want to exploit this potential “weak” spot in the Bengals.
Never fear fans, the Bengals will be much more prepared this year for opposing tight ends such as the Patriots duo along with in-division tight ends Dennis Pitta, Jordan Cameron, and Heath Miller. The Bengals had difficulty last year dealing with such players when coverage linebackers Emmanuel Lamur, Sean Porter, and Taylor Mays all went down with season-ending injuries. With these players back along with the addition of rookie linebacker Marquis Flowers, the Bengals have a plethora of defenders who have the skills to cover such tight ends. After defeating the Patriots in week five of last year 13-6, and ending Tom Brady’s TD streak two games short of Drew Brees’ record, I expect the Bengals to play similarly well and possibly come away with a victory against the Patriots in Foxbourgh where the Patriots are 96-16 in the Tom Brady era.