Patriots' Vince Wilfork Holding Out?

Aaron DodgeAnalyst IMay 28, 2009

According to the Patriots Web site, "more than 80" of the 91 players currently on the roster were on the field for OTAs today. Notably missing was NT Vince Wilfork.

It has been suggested that he may be holding out of the team workouts in order to spark contract discussions with the club. Wilfork has announced several times on his Twitter account that he would not be attending.

The OTAs are voluntary, but we've seen contract disputes go far past this stage, into mini-camps, training camp, and beyond.

Wilfork agreed to a six-year deal when New England selected him with the 21st pick in the 2004 draft. His contract expires after this season, although he would not be an unrestricted free agent. His base salary this season is $2.2 million, which fails to accurately portray his immense importance to the team.

In the Patriots 3-4 system, Wilfork's position at NT is one of the most important. He has served as a run stuffer, occasional pass rusher, and overall menace in his career to this point and deserves a higher salary.

The problem is his ability and performance may have created a price tag too steep for the team's liking. Precedents have been set around the league, as other big name defensive linemen have signed lucrative deals.

Nose tackles Albert Haynesworth of the Redskins and Kris Jenkins of the Jets will be making on average $13 million and $6 million, respectively. Defensive linemen like Jared Allen of the Vikings and Tommie Harris of the Bears have also signed significant deals.

It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that the Patriots and Wilfork can work something out and meet in the middle. New England's track record doesn't lend itself to handing out massive contracts often, though. Speculation will continue to run rampant until Wilfork decides his next move to either report and practice or to hold out.

At that point, the team will have no choice but to deal with the situation one way or another.