With free agency rapidly approaching, NFL teams are trimming rosters and clearing cap room. Earlier this month the Giants released wide receiver Victor Cruz, and this weekend the the Jets parted ways with long-time center, Nick Mangold.
The move frees over $9 million in salary cap space for the Jets. Jets owner Woody Johnson released a statement on the fan favorite Mangold.
“For the past 11 years, Nick Mangold has been a cornerstone of our team both on and off the field,” Johnson said. “As our Pro Bowl center, Nick consistently demonstrated superior skill and unmatched toughness. Equally important, off the field, Nick exhibited respect, sensitivity and compassion for the causes he supported.
“It has been a privilege to have known Nick these many years and, for all of us, I say Nick will always be a Jet.”
Mangold was a warrior, a throwback player in the mold of former Patriots and Bucs Pro Bowler Logan Mankins. He started 164 of 176 possible regular season games during his 11 years with the Jets, and made seven Pro Bowls, and also was a two-time, first-team All-Pro selection (2009 and 2010). But a nagging ankle injury limited him to eight games last year, and that combined with his salary, made him expendable.
Is a he a viable candidate for the Bucs? Certainly GM Jason Licht and his staff will look at the possibility, as they do every player that is available. But at age 33, and best days are most likely behind him, how much sense does it make it to bring him to Tampa Bay? And would he even consider moving his family down to the Tampa area after spending the past 11 years in New York?
Cook Reacts: “I am torn on the move to be honest. Without knowing his full medical, it is hard to say and as mentioned, at what price? Plus would the Bucs be better to move Ali Marpet to center and allow him to begging to develop chemistry with Jameis Winston? The quarterback-center relationship is as important as really any two players on a football team. Sharing responsibilities in making line calls, the nuances of the hand placement (quite personal!) and just being able to trust the person getting the you the ball if you are the quarterback. Is brining in a guy for most likely two years max, a good idea, and does that stunt the development of Marpet, if in fact the Bucs are looking to move him over?
“But I keep thinking back to the Mankins situation and the impact it made. Mankins wasn’t great in Tampa Bay his first season, after being traded to the Bucs on the eve of the season opener in 2014. Mankins was shellshocked when he arrived in Tampa, and was in no way prepared for the brutal Florida temperatures.
“But following his first season with the Bucs, Mankins vowed to come into the offseason is great shape, which he did, but more importantly he took on a strong leadership role that proved to be invaluable for rookies Marpet and Donovan Smith. It is no coincidence that the Bucs set franchise records on offense that season, and Mankins made the Pro Bowl as he vowed to do in a text to Licht earlier that year. And I don’t know that enough has been made about the impact Mankins had on the offensive line, and his teammates that struggled at times following his retirement prior to the 2016 season.
“Like Mankins when he arrived in Tampa, Mangold’s best days are most likely behind him, yet his impact inside the walls of One Buc could be an asset to a team primed to make a serious playoff run this season. If Mangold could have that type of impact for the Buccaneers in 2017, and the price isn’t too exorbitant, than the Bucs should seriously considering make him an offer.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com