Wilfork Clears the Air


Vince Wilfork appeared on WEEI Sports Radio’s “Dale and Holley Show” today and was pretty upfront and honest about his contract situation (or lack thereof). It also seems like it’s “No more Mr. Nice Guy.” His tone was stern and and you can almost feel his frustration about the whole situation in his words. You can listen to the audio by clicking here.

When he first signed with the Pats as a first round draft pick, he was unhappy that he had to sign a 6-year deal, which was completely within the rules at the time. However, he signed it and honored it, and now he wants his big long-term deal. He feels he’s done everything asked of him and now he wants his share. Wilfork did mention a slew of great Patriots that were in his situation and moved on to other teams, which is not a good sign, and also kind of depressing I think if you’re a Patriots fan: Deion Branch, Daniel Graham, Asante Samuel, Adam Vinatieri, Richard Seymour (via trade). That’s a lot of talent that was allowed to walk (except Seymour who they got something for). He did say numerous times that there’s still time to get something done, but, “It is what it is.” But make no mistake about it, he wants a lucrative long-term deal.

I want a long-term deal or I want to be free. Point blank.”

As far as how much he wants, he’s certainly not aiming low. He absolutely does NOT want the franchise tag, as would be expected, but see what you take from this quote:

“[The franchise tag] is decent money for most people out there. What I do, it’s OK. But I don’t look at myself as an OK player. Like I said, it’s just basically a slap in my face and an insult to me to basically tell me I’m an OK player.”

So he doesn’t want the franchise tag, but that was obvious and no mystery. What I take from that quote is that he’s looking for a large sum of money, or basically what he feels his market value is. Saying that the franchise tag is just “OK” and just “decent money” indicates that he’s obviously looking for more than what the franchise tag would offer. I searched for the franchise tag number for defensive tackles but couldn’t find this year’s dollar figure. However, last year it was $6.058 million. That number will increase this year, and being modest and saying it goes up by $1 million, he’s looking for well over $7 million. He might want to be the highest-paid defensive tackle, though I can’t confirm that. Thanks a lot Dan Snyder for bumping that number up significantly by the way with Albert Haynesworth. Everyone sure appreciates that across the NFL.

Forget about getting a “hometown discount” or taking less to stay with a winning program. Here’s how Vince feels about that:

There’s a short window of opportunity for me to make the type of money that I want to make. I’m not selling my family short and I’m definitely not selling myself short just to stay back and to win and be part of a great organization. Winning is a big part of sports, but a lot of teams win. … We’ll see. I will do what’s best for my family. But I definitely will not sell myself short of my ability. Not at all.”

At least he’s upfront that he wants the money, and being on a winning team doesn’t mean all too much. Al Davis and Dan Snyder must be dancing a jigg hearing that.

A couple of things will have to happen if the Patriots are going to re-sign Vince Wilfork. First, they will have to adjust what has been considered, “The Patriot Way,” in that they will have to give a large contract to someone not named Brady to keep one of their best players aboard. With an uncapped year coming up, that’s certainly not out of the question. Something that should be considered with Wilfork and other players whose contracts are expiring or will expire next year, is the fact that the Pats could prorate all of the signing bonus for this season. It is uncapped, and they can spend as much money as they want, technically speaking. They will stick to some kind of budget as any good business would, but it would also be good business to pay out the big money now when it won’t count towards a cap limit so that when (if?) a cap passes in the future, they won’t have to worry about it counting against them. It’s a strategy that’s crazy enough to work. The question is, “Do the Patriots value Wilfork as much as he values himself?” Are they even close? For now, this is the hottest topic of the offseason. Hopefully a resolution is coming soon, as well as one with the defensive coordinator position.