Mankins holds out hope for free agency

BOSTON -- Patriots guard Logan Mankins called Monday's ruling to lift the lockout "somewhere to start" when it comes to the labor battle between players and owners.

As for his own situation, Mankins, who has been assigned the franchise tag, is holding out hope that he'll become an unrestricted free agent.

"I've heard there's this thing in football called free agency," he said, tongue in cheek, at Matt Light's Lockout Breakfast at the Liberty Hotel.

"It's been two years now [since my contract expired], and I haven't seen it. Maybe one of these days I could actually experience that."

Asked if he'd be open to staying with the Patriots if they offered him a fair contract, Mankins said, "I've thought about that. I don't know. I'm not going to put any answers out there on that right now. I'll wait until there is a season in progress before I decide."

When discussing what the last year has been like for him, Mankins touched on how it has been different from his first five years in the NFL.

"It's been good. I've had a lot of off time," said the seven-year veteran. "I haven't had to go to all the OTAs [organized team activities] and stuff like that. I've enjoyed my time at home, and I guess it's looking like I'm going to have even more time at home this summer."

That could be a tip-off that Mankins has no plans to sign his franchise tender (assuming it's valid) once the league year begins.

Meanwhile, Mankins, who is one of the plaintiffs in the suit against the NFL along with Tom Brady, said he's much like every other player when it comes to the labor situation.

"I don't have any answers, I'm not in all the meetings. I get my information from guys like Matt [Light] and the other players who have been in all those meetings. Their information is a lot different than what you hear the NFL put out there."