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First Move of the Offseason is a Large One


Nothing about the franchise tagging of Vince Wilfork can be considered small. The 6-2, 325 lb, nose tackle, is seemingly going to be back with the Patriots for at least one more season.

Big Vince has been clogging the hole up the middle for opposing runners for six years now and finally thought he was getting a chance to test the free agent market when the Patriots gave him the commonly dreaded franchise tag. For the nose tackle position, this implies that Vince will make 7.003 million dollars in the 2010-11 season.

There are multiple situations that can come from this decision by the New England Staff. Below I’ve outlined four situations that we should all keep in mind.

1. Vince settles back into New England for one more year. This seems to be the best situation, but this to me would be the worst. The way the history of the franchise tag runs, players who live by the one year contract get upset with the franchise and test free agency immediately, almost forgetting about their old franchise. (This is the path that was taken by Adam Vinatieri in 2005)

2. Vince and the Patriots extend their talks and agree to a long term deal. The franchise tag in this scenario would be looked at as a privacy curtain for the talks between New England and Wilfork. While Wilfork is under the franchise tag, other teams can talk to him, but they have to be conscious of the fact that the patriots can match their offers. Vince signing a long term deal with New England is definitely a good possibility, as it has been enforced by multiple members of the organization just how important the big man in the middle is to the organization’s success.

3. A team offers a contract to Vince that the Patriots are not willing to match. In this scenario, if a team outbids the Patriots for Big Vince, that team would have to give up two first round picks to the Patriots. This is why throwing the franchise tag on Vince is such a security blanket. If someone really wants him, they’ll have to give up some great things into the pockets of the Patriots organization. As much as it would be tough to see Vince go, it sure would be nice to have some more first round picks.

4. Vince is involved in some blockbuster trade. This is very unlikely but it is also something that is a possibility and certainly would have to be an absolute blockbuster. This is what was the outcome of the last franchise-tagged Patriot (Matt Cassel) but that was certainly a different situation and expectation.

When it comes to what is most likely going to happen, I have it ordered 1-4 as I see it. This is absolutely not the order of how fortunate the scenarios would be for the franchise however. The second scenario on my board is definitely the ideal situation for Patriots fans, and Patriots players. The closer the NFL moves to a non-capped 2011, the closer that scenario is to being a possibility. Here’s to Roger Goodell making that decision!

Ed Mahan

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