In light of the news that defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is requesting his release from the New England Patriots, the front office fired a salvo across the deck of the good ship Wilfork as news broke that fellow veteran Tommy Kelly has restructured his contract. First reported by ESPN’s Field Yates, Kelly restructured the final year of his contract to free up $800,000 in salary cap space.
To Wilfork, this is a statement of intent by the Patriots front office. Last year, Tommy Kelly clearly outplayed Vince Wilfork and both were injured within the first five games of the season. A year older than Wilfork, Kelly’s contract sets the market as to what New England values the defensive tackle position.
With impressive youngster Sealver Siliga already in the fold at defensive tackle and the potential of former CFL player Armond Armstead w ho is expected to contribute in 2014, the Patriots already have options in place at defensive tackle. With Tommy Kelly returning and holdovers Joe Vellano and Chris Jones, the Patriots are making it clear that they will not be held hostage by Vince Wilfork.
With Vince Wilfork fighting for his ridiculous contract dollars, Kelly–who was counting only $2.66 million against the salary cap–is further securing a role for himself in Foxborough, MA. The Patriots paid out a $100,000 signing bonus to Kelly on his new restructured contract which is now coming in with a value of $1.85 million. With the Patriots also including playing time incentives that count against the cap as part of the deal, the Patriots are hedging their bets on returning from his knee injury.
The contract restructuring is good news for Tommy Kelly, but it is more bad news for Vince Wilfork.