Ah, and the word "mandatory" still means something. At least to those who eat New England's humble pie.
Today Vince Wilfork reported to mandatory minicamps after sitting out of voluntary OTAs. Wilfork has been disgruntled about his current contract situation and his holdout has been well documented.
His willingness to join the team in camp could stem from a variety of other situations.
As the Boston Globe put it, "there is language that could apply to Wilfork's contract and allow the Patriots to pursue that money (up to $500,000) if he doesn't attend."
When you consider that he's set to make $2.2 million this season, it makes economic sense for the big man to make his mandatory appearances.
The move could also be a sign of contract progress. Patriots owner Robert Kraft was recently asked about the on-going saga.
“I’m a big fan of Vince Wilfork. Unfortunately, the business part of this game, this is something that goes on every year with most teams,” Kraft said. “We’re lucky to have Vince. I hope he’s here for the long-term. These things usually have a way of working themselves out. We’re privileged to have some pretty good football people making the decisions."
Not to take credit away from Wilfork's personal integrity in any way, but his appearance does say something about the team's attitude. For the Patriots a holdout and contract dispute has resulted in absences from only voluntary workouts. That says something about the team that has been constructed in New England and the players that buy into the humble mentality.
Guard Logan Mankins has also stated that he fully intends to participate in camp in the midst of his own contract talks. It's nice to have a locker room full of these players. It seems to be a rarity these days for a player to put the team first, and the Patriots should take great care not to take advantage of it. If these guys are willing to participate when discontented, the front office needs to get to work on their extensions.
Wilfork and Mankins have proven their worth on the field, and with their participation in mandatory workouts, they have proven they're Patriots at heart. It's good news to see both and now we just have to play the wait-and-see game.
Hopefully, today's revelations are a sign of contract signings to come.