It was only a matter of time, and it has finally happened: the New England Patriots slapped the franchise tag on nose tackle Vince Wilfork. The tag virtually guarantees that Wilfork will remain a Patriot in 2010, whether they are able to negotiate a long-term deal or not. Big Vince will earn, at a minimum, about $7 million this season according to the value of the tag. If another team wants to sign Wilfork away, it will cost them two first-round draft picks, a price too hefty to pay. Here is the statement from the Patriots, which does contain some good news:
“A long-term agreement with Vince Wilfork has been the team’s top contractual priority for some time. Unfortunately, despite numerous conversations and proposals, the goal has not yet been realized. Vince is a tremendous player for our team and remains a significant part of our future plans. It is because of Vince’s importance to this organization that we have assigned the franchise designation as we continue to work toward a long-term agreement. We are hopeful that Vince will remain a Patriot for many years to come.”
The good news from the Patriots is that they want to keep Vince in New England for the long haul and will continue to negotiate a long-term deal. The franchise tag seems to be used just to give the team more time to hammer out a deal. On NFL Total Access tonight on NFL Network, Jason LaCanfora stated that he thought that a deal will be worked out over the next 5-6 days. That’s a pretty optimistic statement, but the real deadline to get the deal done is 4 pm on July 15. I don’t think it will take that long because the Pats need to know what money they have to play with to sign Tom Brady to a contract extension as well as locking up Stephen Gostkowski and Logan Mankins long-term.
Vince Wilfork’s wife also released a statement on how the Wilfork camp feels about getting the tag:
“In regards to the many calls and emails I am receiving in response to the franchise tag we figured this would be the easiest way to. The franchise tag has been applied. After six years of dedicated service I do understand this is a business. With that being said it is my hope that the tag is applied for its true purpose: For the purpose of allotting more time for us to continue our talks and be able to reach a long term agreement. Only time will tell what the final result will be.”
It seems as though there is some cautious optimism there. It would not have been a good sign if Wilfork’s camp came out with a harsh statement about getting the franchise tag, something we all knew that he didn’t want. The sooner this deal gets done the better, so we’ll just have to wait and see what the final result is. Either way, Vince Wilfork will remain a Patriot at least one more year.