By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff
So does Logan Mankins’ holdout potentially save Nick Kaczur’s job?
It seems that way to me. Earlier this offseason when I was pondering the makeup of the Patriots offensive line for the upcoming season, it seemed fairly clear that Sebastian Vollmer needs to be on the field more. With Matt Light garnering strong public support from Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, attention shifted over to the other tackle, Nick Kaczur.
Kaczur has been relatively solid on the field during his five seasons with the Patriots. Drafted in the third round of the 2005 draft, Kaczur started eleven games in his rookie season, filling in for the injured Light at left tackle. The following season, he replaced Ryan O’Callaghan at right tackle in November, and has pretty much held the position since then.
However, off the field, Kaczur has had some problems, as reported by The Boston Globe in June of 2008. That article reported that “Kaczur was arrested in April on a charge of illegal possession of prescription painkillers and then secretly cooperated with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in a sting operation that resulted in the indictment of his alleged drug supplier.” The drug in question was said to be the painkiller oxycontin.
The incident seemed to pass pretty quickly, though it is still brought up from time-to-time. The Patriots apparently felt comfortable enough with Kuczur to give him a contract extension through the 2012 season last August.
The emergence of Vollmer last season was strong enough that, as mentioned earlier, the Patriots need to get him on the field more, if not as a full-time starter. It seemed logical that Kaczur’s right tackle spot could easily be taken by Vollmer, allowing the Patriots to save some money on that spot, and with several young O-Linemen in the Dante Scarnecchia pipeline, Kaczur’s place on the team seemed in jeopardy.
In the meanwhile, left guard Logan Mankins reached the end of his rookie contract, and was a restricted free agent this offseason. The Patriots retain his rights, but has not signed his tender or a new contract, and instead has demanded a trade and hurled some verbal bombs at the Patriots organization and in particular at owner Bob Kraft. The situation doesn’t seem easy to resolve, and it appears that Mankins has shot his way out of town with his remarks.
At the offseason OTA workouts and at full-squad mini-camp, Kaczur was seen lining up in Mankins left guard spot, while Vollmer was in the right tackle position. It seems that Mankins absence created an opportunity for Kaczur. I’m not certain that Kaczur’s spot on the roster is 100% assured, but at this point, it seems more likely than not that he’ll be part of this team in 2010.