Bill Belichick: Will he be forced to rebuild the New England Patriots offensive line?

Bill Belichick faces a serious problem with three key players on the way out. The New England Patriots need to use the upcoming draft to fill holes in the lineup. Will Bill Belichick keep Logan Mankins or let him go?

Eugene Tanner/AP
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick watches as AFC players hold their first practice Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011, in Honolulu, for Sunday's NFL football Pro Bowl.

The New England Patriots are playing with fire. The Pats head coach Bill Belichick appears unwilling to lock up star offensive lineman Logan Mankins by awarding him the contract he obviously deserves. Mankins is arguably the best guard in the NFL, and the Patriots cannot afford to lose him.

Mankins was given the franchise tag last year, but he chose to sit out the first eight weeks of the season, before returning in Week 9 for the Cleveland Browns game. Looks like he knows how to play hardball with Coach Belichick too.

Mankins is quoted in the Boston Herald friday, “I would never say the door is totally shut,’’ he said. “But the way it’s looking right now, I don’t see it happening. I don’t see them trying to keep me, unless it’s with the franchise tag.’’

This situation doesn't look promising. The offensive line looks to take other hits as Matt Light is headed into free agency, and right guard Stephen Neal is in his last year.

The Patriots are looking forward to the NFL draft. They are the only team with two first-round picks. Numbers 17 and 28. Coach Belichick has a history of using the draft to restock his lineup, plugging in rookies where needed. But will the Patriots actually use these coveted picks or trade them to get more picks in lower rounds? This would not be surprising as this has been their method-of-operation in the past.

Check out the list of possible best available draft picks in the upcoming draft.

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