The New England Patriots are usually good for a surprising roster move or two before the season. They out-did themselves on Tuesday.
Mankins, 32, was still a high quality starter last year for New England, even if he hasn't been quite as dominant as early in his career. Trading him is a strong statement by Bill Belichick that he no longer views Mankins as an elite player. Finances are certainly a factor too. Breer points out that Mankins' 2014 cap number is just over $10 million more than Wright's $498,333 cap number.
Wright feels like a somewhat small part of the deal. He was reportedly not even a lock to make the Buccaneers' roster as recently as a week ago when coach Lovie Smith called him out publicly. Wright is a talented "move" tight end that can line up as a receiver out of the slot. He adds another weapon to a thin tight end group in New England, but he's ultimately a role player.
The draft pick compensation and Mankins' salary are the key factors here. The deal simply doesn't make sense for the Patriots unless they believed Mankins was unlikely to be on their roster in 2015. Fourth-year pro Marcus Cannon is a promising player that the Patriots might have wanted to get into the lineup.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht says that free agent Richie Incognito, who they hosted on a visit Tuesday, is still "in play" to be signed. But the need has obviously lessened. Give the Buccaneers credit for seeing a major problem on their roster, and going out to aggressively fix it. Incognito would have been a half measure at best.