Patriots trade Mankins to Bucs

Tampa, FL ( - The New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers pulled off a stunning trade less than two weeks before the regular- season opener, with the Pats sending six-time Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins to the Bucs in exchange for tight end Tim Wright.

The Patriots will also receive a future draft choice from Tampa Bay, which reported to be a fourth-round pick in 2015.

Mankins, a first-round selection of New England in 2005 who has started 130 games during an impressive nine-year run with the Patriots, fills an obvious need on a Buccaneers' offensive line that lost left guard Carl Nicks to a possible career-ending toe injury. Tampa Bay reached an injury settlement with Nicks, who is believed to be contemplating retirement, last month.

"We feel very fortunate just to have Logan," said Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht, who formerly worked for the Patriots as the team's director of pro personnel. "He's a very good player. [I'm] a first-hand witness of what he means to the locker room as well. Any time you have five consecutive Pro Bowls, All-Pro player - I mean, [that's] a lot of accolades. But he's a great person. He's going to be great for that room, he's going to be great for this locker room."

The 32-year-old has been named an All-Pro in each of the last four years and was a vital part of two AFC championships in New England as one of Tom Brady's must trusted protectors.

"Logan Mankins is everything we would ever want in a football player," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said in a statement. "It is hard to imagine a better player at his position, a tougher competitor or a person to represent our program. He is one of the all-time great Patriots and the best guard I ever coached.

"Unfortunately, this is the time of year when difficult decisions have to be made - and this is one of the most difficult we will ever make - but like every other decision it was made for what we feel is in the best interests of the team."

In Wright, the Patriots get a player they hope can fill the void left by Aaron Hernandez's forced departure from the NFL as he awaits trial on charges of murdering associate Odin Lloyd last summer.

After making the team as an undrafted rookie last season, Wright caught 54 passes for 571 yards and five touchdowns while starting eight games. The 24- year-old finished second among Tampa players in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches.

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