Vince Wilfork Sends a Strong Message to the Patriots by Skipping OTAs

Sean Crowe@CroweKnowsSenior Writer IMay 31, 2009

SEATTLE - DECEMBER 07:  Vince Wilfork #75 of the New England Patriots warms-up on the field before the game against the Seattle Seahawks on December 7, 2008 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. The Patriots defeated the Seahawks 24-21. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

@Wilfork75 spent this week gardening at home while the rest of the Patriots spent the week practicing at Gillette Stadium.

You see, Wilfork wants a new contract, and if he doesn’t get one, he’d be happy spending the summer (and maybe a large chunk of the fall) gardening instead of playing football.

The Patriots cannot allow this to happen.

Sometimes, the player has the leverage, and sometimes, the team has it. Contract negotiations are all about leverage. When a player is still under contract, the team typically has all the leverage.

The only way the player can take back the leverage is to hold out. The Patriots have had a few players hold out over the last few years, and both of them now play for other teams (Asante Samuel and Deion Branch).

That result is not an option when it comes to Vince Wilfork. He’s too important to what the Patriots do on defense. They simply cannot get by without him.

Wilfork is one of the few players in the NFL who, even though he’s still under contract, has all of the leverage. He’s got the Patriots by the little Belichicks.

If he doesn’t show up, the Patriots’ defense is, to put it bluntly, screwed.

There is nobody on the roster who can play nose tackle effectively every down except for Vince Wilfork. There are very few, if any, players in the NFL who can play nose tackle as well as Vince Wilfork.

Want to know why Jerod Mayo was the Defensive Rookie of the Year last season? Look at the fat guy lining up in front of him keeping 3/5 of the opposing offensive line occupied.

The Patriots’ defense doesn’t work without a dominant defensive line. The most important position in a 3/4 defensive line is the nose tackle.

Ron Brace is a nice pipe-dream, and maybe he’ll eventually become a pretty good NFL nose tackle. But he’s no Vince Wilfork, and he probably never will be.

The list of defensive tackles who are better than Wilfork is a short one. Albert Haynesworth of the Redskins, Kevin Williams of the Vikings, and maybe Haloti Ngata of the Ravens make up the entire list. That’s it. And none of those guys are coming to New England any time soon.

I’m not advocating giving Wilfork Haynesworth money, but the big man needs to get a big raise.

The Patriots HAVE to pay up.

They’ve played hardball in the past. They’ve stuck to their formula. Nobody is above the team. Everyone has a price.

Vince Wilfork doesn’t fall into those categories. Only Tom Brady is more important, and only slightly more.

You think it was bad last season trying to get by without Asante Samuel? Just wait until you see them try to survive with Mike Wright starting at nose tackle.

It’s time to show Vince the money.

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Questions? Comments? Insults? You can email them to Sean Crowe at scrowe@gmail.com.