According to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, Vince Wilfork stormed out of contract negotiations with the team and cleaned out his locker very expressively. Not only did he take his stuff, but he also ripped his name plate off after the Patriots reportedly asked him to take a pay cut, not a restructure.
This is getting to a personal level and it should never have. The Patriots should have released Wilfork because now it’s becoming a game of PR in which Wilfork will lose. He is taking it personally and there was no way he wouldn’t. He was asked to take less money after being injured playing in a game for the team he has racked up 327 tackles, 16 sacks and being involved in 18 turnovers for.
“Going back over the last 20 years, we’ve had some pretty special people come through, and (Vince) is one of my personal favorites,” Kraft said. “I’m thinking of Tedy Bruschi and Matt Light and Kevin Faulk and Troy Brown, they made their careers with us. I surely hope Vince will be with us next year – In modern-day athletics, in pro sports, it’s a business as well as commitment to one another. We have to work through [this], and I’m still not giving up hope that he’ll be part of our team next year.”
Kraft and the Patriots will come out saying all the right things, like the quotes above, while Wilfork gets crucified by Boston sports fans and takes on a persona to that of Doctor Octopus or the Green Goblin, but it just isn’t true. It’s personal to the players – it always is.
What I have maintained this entire time is $7.5 million is a lot of money that can be spent in better places than at a run-stuffing interior defensive lineman. Teams don’t run as much and even if they did, running only gets you so many points. The money is better spent at positions such as the one that’s let the Patriots down over the past three seasons – cornerback, safety, tight end, wide receiver and linebacker.
Ideally we all wanted Wilfork back, but just at the right dollar. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t love Wilfork at $3.5 million per season, but that’s as high as I go on that position. In the Patriots early days, Wilfork was part of a three down lineman set that made him vital and responsible for taking on two offensive lineman every play – at that point you could pay him what two interior defensive linemen would make in his one salary, but now we have someone next to him.
This was the first chip to fall in one that will ultimately end in Wilfork being released sooner rather than later. As far as I can tell, Wilfork will be gone this time next week. Releasing Wilfork will give the Patriots some wiggle room for additional acquisitions where they are currently tight to the cap.