Thursday, March 27, 2014

When the dust settled, Vince Wilfork was still a Patriot

Bob Kraft said he wanted the big man in Foxborough.  Bill Belichick had no comment.  Vince Wilfork was so elusive that he was becoming as notorious as a prohibition era gangster, surfacing without notice and ripping innocent name plates off of lockers...

...but unlike those thugs, Wilfork has worked very hard for his money and the only violence inherent in his system results in guards and centers grasping helplessly at Wilfork's ankles after he knocked them on their cans - and the aforementioned vandalism, of course.

At issue, the five-time Pro Bowl nose tackle feeling slighted by the team approaching him a few weeks back about restructuring his contract to gain some relief on the salary cap, which angered the 6' 2", 325 pound man-mountain - and given the parameters of the new deal he just signed with the New England Patriots, money wasn't the entire issue.

A proud man, a family man and the cornerstone of the Patriots' defense for the past ten years knows that there are fewer games ahead of him as there are behind, and perhaps the team approaching him about restructuring brought to reality that which he didn't want to face - the realization that the employer that he had toiled for all these years was telling him that it will soon be time for the gold watch and a boot out the door...

...but not for another three years and after he's had the chance to earn $22.5 Million, which has a tendency to smooth things over a bit - as does hanging out in the Bahamas for a couple of weeks, from where Wilfork arrived from - pen in hand - ready to re-enlist in the militia.

Vince Wilfork signed a contract on Thursday that is neither a considerable compromise on his part nor an admission of impending erosion of his skill set.  The $3 million guaranteed is $600 thousand less than what was owed on his previous contract, but with obtainable playing-time driven incentives making up the remainder of the compensation package, he has a chance to earn slightly more than he would have on the now-expired contract.

Of course, the actual cash payment wasn't nearly as important to the Patriots at this point as was the salary cap hit, which would have been $11 million but now - depending on language contained  in the contract - will be anywhere between three and five million less.

That's what it's all about.  Don't think for a second that if the Patriots weren't a little cap-strapped they would have just let his contract go and negotiate an extension sometime during the season.  This needed to get done and it got done where both parties are protected and smiles are free.

What the Patriots get is the assurance that Wilfork will play for pay and they have avoided the dreaded fractured locker room - and if Wilfork returns from his torn Achilles at anywhere close to the force that he was in clogging running lanes and absorbing double teams, their relationship will continue with club options in 2015 and 2016 - for $7.5 million per.

Now on to putting the finishing touches on what looks to be a monstrously large and talented defense...

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