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Editor's Note: As you can tell, this is a sponsored post by Sprint, and will be the first in a series of six articles highlighting major, or "game changing" offseason moves that the Patriots have made since the conclusion of the 2009 season. Of course, we'd like to thank Sprint for helping sponsor Pats Pulpit as they think that their new 4G wireless network and new phone will be a hit among NFL fans. Enjoy!
Game-Changing Offseason Move #1 -- Re-Signing Vince Wilfork
You probably remember the headlines. They came out daily. The Patriots weren't going to give Vince Wilfork the big contract extension he deserved because they "don't play their players." Then came the Randy Moss fiasco, he believed that he was entering his final year as a Patriot, because like so many had said before "the Patriots don't pay their players."
Enter Vince Wilfork.
The mammoth 6-2, 325 pound nose tackle had finally reached the end of his six year rookie contract after being drafted 21st overall in the 2004 draft. He had certainly outplayed his rookie contact, having made the Pro Bowl in 2007 and 2009. He had been a good citizen. He was a great leader. He helped bring the Patriots a Super Bowl his rookie season. He was the key ingredient to the Patriots' 3-4 defense.
Despite all of this, the expectation from fans and analysts across the country was that the Patriots would apply the franchise tag to Wilfork, then simply have him play out the final year of his deal, then leave via free agency after 2010. After all, the Patriots had let the likes of Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Mike Vrabel, Rodney Harrison, and Tedy Bruschi leave the past several years via free agency, trades, etc. Why wouldn't they do the same to Vince Wilfork?
However, with one game-changing move, the Patriots shed the perception that they don't pay their players. On March 5th 2010, the Patriots signed Vince Wilfork to a 5 year, $40 million deal with over $25 million in guarantees. This deal not only made Wilfork the highest paid nose tackle in NFL history, but proved that the Patriots do reward their top players who are good citizens and good leaders.
With one move, the Patriots showed that they do pay their players, and that they were committed to keeping their core from 2009 together moving forwards.
I would call that a game-changing move.