Fantasy Fallout: Logan Mankins – Tim Wright Trade

New England Patriots v Carolina Panthers

Unlike many teams in the National Football League, the New England Patriots are never shy about making trades or moving on from franchise players and the trade they made on Tuesday with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a perfect example.

With the season set to start for the Pats in less than two weeks, Bill Belichick and the rest of the front office signed off on a deal sending former All-Pro left guard Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay in exchange for second-year tight end Tim Wright, who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent, and a 2015 fourth-round draft pick.

Although the move seems somewhat surprising on New England’s behalf considering Mankins’ history with the franchise, the Pats apparently feel confident shifting some things around and rolling out Dan Connolly at left guard, Ryan Wendell at center and Marcus Cannon at right guard. From Tampa Bay’s perspective, adding a Pro Bowl-caliber player like Mankins makes a lot of sense because their offensive line had real problems last season and surrendered 47 sacks in 2013, tied for fifth-worst in the league.

The teams have traded players in the past and Bucs general manager Jason Licht was in New England when Mankins was drafted in 2005 so there is some history there. Belichick also has begun to stockpile players from Wright’s alma mater, Rutgers University, and maybe that was another reason he wanted to obtain the 24-year-old.

“We’re very excited to acquire a player like Logan,” Licht told the Tampa Bay Times. “We feel very fortunate. Logan is a very good player. (I’m a) first-hand witness to what he means in the locker room as well. His play on the field speaks for itself.”

So – the question is – what does it mean for fantasy?

The clear beneficiary of the deal is Wright. Even though he wasn’t exactly a highly-rated prospect, Wright caught 54 passes for 571 yards and five touchdowns last season and ended the year as the league’s top receiving rookie tight end. He had five games last season where he was targeted eight or more times and ended up averaging over 10 yards-per-reception in 2013 while catching 71 percent of the passes that came his way.

Wright will obviously be playing behind Rob Gronkowski when the team only deploys one tight end on the field, but the Pats do like to use dual tight end sets and the young pro could easily establish himself in the “move” role that was filled by Aaron Hernandez before he allegedly did his all-too-real Scarface impression.

“He’s really athletic, he used to be a wide receiver. He can be used as a matchup guy, an H-back-type,” former Bucs defensive lineman told Patriots.com. “He can get in the way as a blocker but that’s not his strong suit. He fits in the new tight end mold.”

While there won’t be much of a chance to evaluate how Wright fits in with the Pats and Tom Brady before the start of the season because New England will play rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the duration of their final preseason game, he is certainly worth keeping an eye and possibly targeting in deeper leagues. Other than Gronkowski and wide receiver Julian Edelman, none of the other pass-catchers on the Pats have earned Brady’s trust and if Wright can catch, he’ll get his fair share of looks.

In Tampa Bay, it’s hard to tell exactly how the move will affect things but it stands to reason that quarterback Josh McCown will benefit from not having to worry about a porous offensive line getting him killed. It should also help whichever Tampa Bay running back you believe will be their starter/bellcow so upgrade Doug Martin, Bobby Rainey            and Charles Sims accordingly. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson’s value should remain relatively unaffected and its possible that either rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins or free-agent signee Brandon Myers could emerge as viable tight end option.

Evan Bleier is a freelance writer based out of wherever he can plug in his laptop. You can send him questions, comments and Buffalo wing suggestions @itishowitis or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook

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