Patriots franchise Vince Wilfork

According to beat writer Tom Curran via his Twitter page, the Patriots have designated nose tackle Vince Wilfork as their franchise player.

This news won’t please Wilfork, who has said all along that he didn’t want to be franchised. The one-year deal will guarantee him a $7.003 million salary in 2010, but players want long-term deals because they offer security. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported last week that the two sides reached a standoff last week in long-term contract talks and thus, that’s why the Pats inevitably decided to use their franchise tag on the 28-year-old NT.

Wilfork is a top 5 defensive tackle, is outstanding against the run and is vital to New England’s 3-4 defense. So while he probably isn’t thrilled with being franchised, the Patriots were never going to let their centerpiece defensive linemen walk this offseason.

At least the two sides can continue to work on a long-term deal. The deadline for franchise players to sign a multi-year deal isn’t until mid-July so now that the Patriots don’t have to worry about competing with other teams, they can focus on making Wilfork contractually happy. Hopefully the two sides can come to an agreement.

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Vince Wilfork preparing for contract battle

One name to keep an eye on this offseason in the NFL is Patriots’ defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this spring. Wilfork has already stated that he either wants a long-term deal or to be set free.

The problem is that the Patriots have no desire to let him walk. If they can’t reach a long-term deal, they would apply the franchise tag on him, which Wilfork has referred to as being a “slap in the face.”

The Patriots are facing quite a dilemma because they’re not a franchise known for giving players huge contracts when they become free agents, but they also know that Wilfork is a unique athlete. Anyone they would get to replace him would be a downgrade, whether it’s Ron Brace or a rookie like Alabama’s Shaun Cody. So they’ll either have to step up and meet Wilfork’s demands or risk alienating him with a franchise tag.

It might be time for the Patriots to finally step up and pay.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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