Mankins is retiring after 11 NFL seasons, 161 games and two conference titles, the Buccaneers announced Monday. The 33 year old is believed to be the only player known to play on a torn ACL, and he did so for almost the entire 2011 season. He also played in the Super Bowl that year with a torn MCL in the opposite knee.
The story encapsulates the fierceness with which Mankins played for more than a decade. After his rookie deal expired, the former first-round pick was franchised before becoming the highest-paid guard in football on a six-year deal. The Patriots traded him to before the 2014 season to Tampa Bay, where he played in 31 of 32 possible games.
While many would have taken the trade as a ticket to an early vacation in Florida, Mankins played at a high level for his final two seasons. Constantly fending off the wear and tear that comes with a career in the trenches, he evolved with the game even as the burden on interior offensive linemen became far greater. He will undoubtedly garner Hall of Fame consideration amid a wave of high-profile offensive line retirements over the past few seasons.
Mankins will go down as one of the centerpieces of the Patriot dynasty and lasted longer than so many of Bill Belichick's rotating pieces. Though Mankins never won a Super Bowl title -- both chances were thwarted by the Giants in 2007 and 2011 -- he was a stalwart on a team that helped revolutionize the way offense was played in the NFL.