Vince Wilfork Wants a New Contract or he Wants a New Team
The New England Patriots in the Bill Belichick era have carved out a reputation as not only one of the NFL's most successful franchises, but one that stubbornly abides by a policy to not go above their budget for certain players, no matter how much said player has meant to the franchise.
That policy has often led to messy contract disputes. Sometimes, like in the case of Deion Branch, who's underperformed elsewhere, the team makes the right decision. Others — particularly the decision not to sign Asante Samuel — come back and haunt the team.
It's often led to the unceremonious end to the careers of distinguished Patriots like Rodney Harrison and Troy Brown.
The next player to possibly be on the way out over contract disagreements is nose tackle Vince Wilfork. Here's what Wilfork said to the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
He knows the Patriots will likely place a franchise tag on him instead of offering the long-term contract he desperately seeks for family security. And if they do so Wilfork said he's prepared to play hardball.
Wilfork said he participates in the offseason programs without balking, never held a holdout, and at times played through pain last season. The 28-year-old warned that likely won't be the case in 2010 if he's hit with a franchise tag, which will pay him over $6 million in a one-year deal.
The Patriots' defense has enough problems without an unhappy run-stuffer in Wilfork. While the team will likely put the franchise tag on him despite Wilfork's objections — after all, Belichick and the team don't bow to public pressure — his career as a Patriot could still be winding down. The franchise tag simply allows the team more time to figure out a way to move Wilfork and get something in return without having to pay him the long-term money he was after.