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The issues surrounding the Patriots as they enter this week’s mandatory mini-camp are more focused on off-the-field happenings. Most notably, the contract situation of nose tackle Vince Wilfork has taken center stage as the defensive line stalwart is entering the final year of his contract and sat out voluntary workouts in protest. Wilfork has shown up for all the mandatory workouts and says he will honor his contract.
Here’s the deal Patriots; it’s time to re-sign the big fella. Of course, the Patriots are notorious for making sound business decisions (Lawyer Milloy, Ty Law, Asante Samuel) and allowing veteran players to leave for the lure of more money. What’s different in this situation is the importance of Wilfork to the defensive front seven and his stature of one of the best linemen in the NFL.
With Asante Samuel, the Patriots were reluctant to give the cornerback a top echelon deal, mostly because they weren’t sold on Samuel’s credentials as a No. 1 corner. Whether they were right or wrong in that case is an argument for a different day, yet there is no debate that Vince Wilfork is not only just entering his prime, but is perhaps the best nose tackle in the NFL. As they did with Richard Seymour and Ty Warren, the Patriots must pony up the dough to lock up Wilfork long term. As I’ve stated before, if you offer him Richard Seymour money and he turns it down, then letting him walk would be understandable. I can forsee a situation like in 2007 where week in, week out we have to hear about Wilfork’s contract status and debate on whether his play is affected. There seems to be little debate that the Patriots are favored to return to the Super Bowl and eliminating the Wilfork contract distraction could go a long way in keeping the team focused on taking home their fourth Super Bowl of the decade.
“I don’t understand how you can put somebody in front of us,” Porter told reporters (via ESPN).
“We won the championship. We were AFC East champions. I just don’t think it’s supposed to happen like that. You’ve got to beat somebody to be the champs. We had to beat somebody to be the champs.”