The New England Patriots have not been known as the most player friendly place in the league when it comes to new contracts for their veteran players. The public persona they present appears to be one that says, “We don’t really need you, because this new guy can fill your shoes.”
In this particular case, the veteran player is Vince Wilfork and the new guy is Ron Brace.
There are several examples of players who have tried to land deals with the Patriots and who have been turned away without a blink by the organization. Deion Branch and Asante Samuel come to mind, as both asked for new contracts before their current deal (at the time) had expired. Both players ended up being traded to teams that were ultimately willing to give them what they wanted.
Richard Seymour was unexpectedly traded to Oakland at the beginning of the 2009 season in the last year of his contract before the Patriots had to resign him. It was a shock to the Patriots fans and certainly a welcomed sight to the Raiders fans, but it definitely caught Richard Seymour off guard.
So it’s no surprise that soon to be free agent Vince Wilfork had some strong words regarding the Patriots on WEEI’s The Dale and Holley Show.
“All these great players that were Patriots were in the same predicament as us, and somehow, they ended up with different teams,” Wilfork said of his former teammates.
Vince was asked if he had talked to the Patriots at all about working out a new contract. He replied, “If you call it talk, I mean, they said something about it this past season, and we didn’t like what they said. Basically there was no talk. It wasn’t a biggie for us, and like I told them, ‘hey I’m willing to wait, I know the situation you guys are in and everybody’s deal is up and all that.’”
Now that the season is over, Wilfork has been surprised not to hear from the team that he showed such a commitment to after signing a six year rookie contract coming out of the University Of Miami, Florida.
“I think the last time we talked contract was at the beginning of the season, and I told them, ‘Let’s talk after the season.’ I don’t know when the next time we’ll talk is, I guess when they get to me, when it becomes important to them. They got all the numbers they need.”
He said, “We never asked for a six year deal from the get go. I honored my contract, I did it professional, it was hard to do, but I did everything on my end. I did everything the right way, the way it needed to be done, and I want the same treatment, and that is not happening right now. I’m trying to look at it in a positive light, because if I look at it in a negative light, I’d be really pissed.”
So, why am I posting this on the Raiders page here on Bleacher Report ? Well for one, I called this, but secondly, and more importantly, there is a chance that Vince Wilfork could be just what the doctor ordered up front to help the Raiders fix their long-time leaky (that’s being generous) run defense.
His former teammate, Richard Seymour, could be a major selling point for Wilfork. Also, being from Miami, Wilfork could find the change of the weather from New England to Oakland appealing as well. In addition, Al Davis has never been shy about paying his players, especially recently incoming free agents.
There is also speculation that the guy Al wanted originally was Vince Wilfork, although Al Davis said himself that Seymour was the guy they wanted all along.
Wilfork made it clear that the franchise tag would not be an acceptable move by the Patriots to make him a happy man. What is wrong with being franchised?
“You don’t have that security that you want; a long term deal where your family is stationary for 3, 4, 5 years. You don’t get to sign the bonus that you played your whole career for and you’re looking into a lockout season. Its ok, but I don’t consider myself an OK player. It’s a slap in my face and an insult to me to tell me that I’m an OK player. It won’t be nice on this end to get it.”
Vince went on to say, “I want a long term deal, or I want to be free. That’s the way I look at it, and that’s how my family looks at it. I’m not selling my family short, and I’m not selling myself short. I have a very short opportunity to go and make the kind of money I want to make to do what I do.”
Wilfork has worked hard for the Patriots over that six year period and has done a good job making a name for himself around the league as a staple in the middle of the Patriots 3-4 scheme. In his career he has racked up 219 solo tackles, 84 assists, 7.5 sacks, and 10 pass deflections.
“It’s time for me to move forward now, whether that’s with the Patriots or without the Patriots,” Wilfork told the show. “What’s gonna be is gonna be, hopefully it’s the right thing. I approached this situation in a whole different manner, hopefully that will mean something. If not, they’ll basically tell me, I’m just like everyone else, and that won’t be pretty…I’m gonna tell you right now that won’t be pretty.”
It might be pretty for fans of a struggling franchise in Oakland; no offense Vince.