When the Mankins trade was announced it shocked fans and Patriots players alike. The Pats sent the former pro bowler down south in exchange for wide receiver turned tight end Tim Wright and a 2016 fourth round selection. Mankins had been a key piece in the offensive line showing both leadership in skill even at 32. Patriots players were reported to have been pissed about the loss of Mankins.
After the Chiefs game many were looking to point the finger somewhere and more than a few pointed their fingers directly at the hoodie himself. Mike Florio wrote a scathing article on Pro Football Talk ripping Belichick for the Mankins trade writing:
But the quality of the roster has eroded in recent years. The offensive line presently stinks. While the departure of long-time line coach Dante Scarnecchia likely played a role in the ability of the line to play its role the right way, the players aren’t good. Which makes the decision to dump guard Logan Mankins after he refused to take a pay cut even more bizarre. Belichick miscalculated the ability of the line to thrive without Mankins, and as a result the Patriots could miss the postseason for the first time since 2008.
Florio wasn't alone in his assessment. Even I had feared the end of the Patriots dynasty after that game. On September 30th I wrote:
Every year it seemed like the question wasn't whether the Patriots would win the AFC East, but rather what seed the Patriots would get in the playoffs. Those days are now dust in the wind.
We now have a team that will struggle to stay above .500. We now have a team that no longer has a clutch quarterback. We now have a team that will probably not make the playoffs.
Fortunately Brady and company made Florio and I look like fools and the Mankins trade at the moment seems to have been beneficial for New England. Now it may still be too early to pass certain judgement of whether sending Mankins to Tampa Bay was a good idea but one cannot ignore what Wright has done in his tenure as a Patriot. Since the devastating Chiefs loss Wright has been a tremendous red zone threat scoring 6 touchdowns in that stretch, two of those in last Sunday's game against Detroit.
The trade certainly did not work for Logan Mankins who is now on a team that has a mere two wins on the year with a rotating quarterback situation. They only thing the Buccaneers are competing for this year is for the first overall pick in the draft.
This story is far from over. We don't know whether Wright will pay of in the long term and we have to see what the Patriots do with the Bucs fourth round pick in the 2015 draft. But for the moment it seems as though Belichick made the Wright call.