Key issue: Extension or new deal

The following is my opinion of what I think one of the primary issues is between Logan Mankins and the Patriots in their contract negotiations:

Published reports indicate that the Patriots have offered a proposal that averages $7 million per season. Yet it's possible that Mankins views the offer as less than that -- more in the $6-6.5 million range -- if the proposal is an extension that is tacked on to his $3.2 million salary in 2010.

That's why understanding the structure of any proposal is important. It adds context to how both sides can view a proposal differently.

This is where the issue between Mankins and the Patriots gets cloudy.

If it is an extension, which I sense it might be, Mankins' frustration would be based on the team using leverage against him in negotiations because he reverted from an unrestricted free agent to a restricted free agent in an uncapped system.

From the team perspective, the Patriots could say they are operating under the current rules of the collective bargaining agreement, which changed this offseason. Because of that, the team's stand might be that Mankins' frustration should be directed more toward the NFL Players Association than the club.