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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
Martin Fennelly Columns

Trade shows Bucs all about now ... and how

Published:   |   Updated: August 27, 2014 at 07:14 AM

— Logan Mankins.

You call him a guard?

C'mon, I'm kidding.

Everybody back on board the Lovie Train. Make it a feverish rally by the Bucs, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, or at least the Richie Incognito circus.

Mind you, the circus has not completely left town. Incognito still “stands as an option,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said.

Back to the now.

“We got better, plain and simple as that,” Bucs coach Lovie Smith said.

It's about Now. And how.

In exchange for tight end Tim Wright and a fourth-round draft pick, the Bucs land a major talent: Mankins, a six-time Pro Bowler for the New England win machine and, in Bill Belichick's words, “one of the all-time great Patriots and the best guard I ever coached.”

Blah-blah-blah. But is he up to replacing Oniel Cousins at left guard?

This was a startling upgrade.

I can't say how good this Bucs offensive line will be. But it didn't exactly get worse on Tuesday.

I think this should rule Richie out. Actually, the Bucs should have ruled Richie out before they ruled him in.

Mankins brings instant better to a line under fire. His mere presence makes me think Josh McCown, 35, will see 36. If I was a Bucs fan, to heck with games — I'd pay to watch Mankins and Gerald McCoy battle in the middle at practice each day. Mankins brings quiet excellence, toughness, leadership.

Unless the guard-eligible TD pass becomes the rage in the new Bucs offense, his handiwork will go mostly unnoticed to crowds at games. Guards don't get ticker-tape parades. Consider it a win every time Doug Martin runs through a hole Mankins made or any Monday that McCown isn't in a neck brace.

The only thing that worries me is that the Bucs made a deal with: Belichick.

If Mankins is retired a year from now and Tim Wright has 100 catches, we'll let you know.

It's just that Bill Belichick always seems to get the best of the Bucs. Hey, Belichick pulled a lot more out of LeGarrette Blount and a lot more out of Aqib Talib, and what did the Bucs get? A Belichick recommendation to the Glazers that they hire ... Greg Schiano. Thanks, Mr. Bill!

Maybe Belichick is dumping Mankins' salary (he's reportedly the highest paid guard in the NFL) to stay ahead, like always (see Lawyer Milloy, Richard Seymour).

No one knows how long Logan Mankins, 32, will be a Buc.

Remember, Carl Nicks was once a Bucs left guard. By the way, so was Davin Joseph.

“We know that he's 32,” Licht said of Mankins. “Richie was 31. So there's some good football players who are up there, past their 30s. But obviously we were comfortable with it.”

Can we stop with Richie already?

Once upon a time last May, some of us asked why the Bucs used their third-round draft pick on another running back instead of a guard.

You know what? I think I'll take a perennial Pro Bowler, 147 starts, including 17 in the postseason, including two Super Bowls, over a third-round draft pick.

The Bucs knew they didn't dare enter this season with this offensive line.

Suddenly, here's Logan Mankins.

Suddenly, it's this offensive line.

It's about Now. And how.

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