Prior to the Patriots’ preseason finale against the New York Giants, team president Jonathan Kraft joined the 98.5 The Sports Hub pregame show. With the Logan Mankins trade still fresh, it was understandably a major topic in the conversation.
Kraft spoke very highly of Mankins.
“Logan is somebody that I think everybody in the building holds in the highest regard, both as a football player and a man,” Kraft said. “Clearly, after John Hannah, he’s the best guard to ever play for the New England Patriots, and I would assume he’ll be wearing a red jacket some day, being inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame. He brought a work ethic and a no-nonsense approach to the game. The day he stepped into our place, he was all about business and all about leading through his actions. He was extremely physical and tough on the field, and the presence that that gave in the locker room to his fellow offensive linemen, I think it clearly set the tone. He’s somebody that we all hold in the highest regard.
“Unfortunately, it’s part of the game, but we believe his legacy will be that of one of the greatest guards to ever play for the Patriots and somebody we were proud to have on the football team.”
Considering Mankins held the second-highest salary cap hit on the team, behind only Tom Brady, the trade was seen by many as a deal made to save money. Kraft acknowledged the money saved but stated adamantly that any money saved always ends up getting spent on the team.
“There’s nothing to that. There’s a budget that every team has that’s set each year by what the salary cap is and then each team might have cash budgets that go along with it,” Kraft said. “I can tell you that last year, the salary cap in the NFL was about $123 million, and we were just under $130 million in cash, so we were well over the salary cap. I think the people who make that argument … if we weren’t maximizing our cap space each year and — unlike a lot of teams who let cap space die in a current year if they don’t use it and don’t roll it over — I could see that being a valid argument.
“If you want to say that Bill [Belichick] and the football operation have our confidence because they place a value on certain positions and players and situations so that you never end up being fully exposed to something, where you can take a big financial hit — yes, we try to be smart like that,” Kraft added. “But to say that we don’t use all of the resources that are available to us just isn’t accurate. If you go and look at maximization of cap space across the league or cash spending last year, I don’t think you can point to anything.”
“With Logan, the cap hit will be about $4 million, the unamortized portion of his signing bonus for this year, next year and the year after, but I think it’s safe to assume that the $6 to $7 million of cap space that we pick up will be fully spent, and we believe it will be spent strategically and in a way that makes our football team a stronger, deeper football team than we would be if we didn’t spend it, which is what I think your question implies that I guess some people are saying.”
As an example of where money is sometimes spent but not necessarily noticed, Kraft noted that the team spent roughly $30 million to upgrade the team facilities.”It’s important to us that when there are dollars that can be spent to strategically help your football team and give you every opportunity to win, we’re going to do that,” he said. “But what we’re not going to do if we can avoid it is make bad decisions or decisions that we perceive to be emotional that could end up costing a significant amount of money.”
As for the notion that the Mankins trade signifies that the Patriots aren’t “all in,” Kraft disagreed.
“I think we’re all in every year. If you don’t consider yourself ‘all in,’ it’s a very hard business to be in,” Kraft said. “Maybe people’s definition of what ‘all in’ means is different, but for us what ‘all in’ means is constantly looking at your personnel situation, all 53 roster spots, the 10 spots on the practice squad, how much cap space you have, how many guys are in the first/second/third year of their deals, who’s about to come up in free agency. “All in” to us as an organization means managing that entire picture to maximize your competitiveness on a rolling basis.”
Listen to the interview below: