Tom E. Curran explains the options regarding the Patriots, Vince Wilfork and the franchise tag.
Starting Thursday, the franchise tag can be gently affixed to players about to hit unrestricted free agency. Vince Wilfork, stay loose.
The tag -- which guarantees a player a one-year salary equal to the average of the top-five salaries at his position -- will be worth $7.003 for Wilfork if the Patriots use it on him. The Patriots can put it on anytime between now and February 25.
The Pats have the choice of making him an "exclusive" or "non-exclusive" franchise player. The difference is simple. Exclusive means he can't negotiate with other teams. Non-exclusive means he can but if he's offered a deal, his current team can either match or let him go to the new team in exchange for two first-round picks. Matt Cassel was a non-exclusive franchise player last year. Wilfork, because of his worth to the Patriots, figures to be exclusive.
A couple of things to keep in mind.
* Negotiations on a long-term deal can continue even if the tag is applied.
* Until the player signs the franchise paperwork, he isn't technically holding out. He doesn't have a "contract" just an offer of one from his current team. By rule, Wilfork can stay away up until Week 10 of the 2010 season.
* A) Wilfork's gonna be pissed if/when he gets tagged; B) he has cause to be; C) the more he talks about the injustice being done him, the less sympathy he'll engender.
* The chance exists that this will help spur negotiations. Talks were progressing until last August when, whispers are, they ran aground with the Patriots offering more than $20 million guaranteed (haven't heard the length of the deal) and haven't been seriously rejoined since.
VP of Officiating Mike Pereira spoke with 98.5 The Sports' Hub Felger and Massarotti during Super Bowl week, specifically regarding the renewed emphasis on the illegal contact rule.
Among other things, Pereira talked about the renewed emphasis that was placed in the middle of the last decade on the rule regarding illegal contact with receivers. Pereira made it clear that Colts president Bill Polian, a long-time member of the Competition Committee, pushed the issue due to the perception/reality that Patriots defensive backs were manhandling Indianapolis receivers.
Pereira was candid regarding his belief that the change to the application of the rule made little sense. Specifically, he said that the notion that a flag would be thrown and a first down awarded regardless of whether the contact actually generates an advantage for the defensive team "didn't seem logical."
"It was difficult for us," he said. "You always tried to officiate the game advantage-disadvantage. And so it didn't seem logical . . . to me at the time. I probably wouldn't be saying this if I didn't have just four quarters left to go in my career. But it didn't seem logical to me that you would take advantage-disadvantage out of the equation, that just a touch became a foul whether or not it had an affect or not."
- PFW Free agent preview: Running back.
- Patriots Today - Talking Pats after the Super Bowl. (13.24 min. video)
- Albert Breer reports LB Gary Guyton hasn't been taking it easy this offseason. He's hosting the first annual Georgia Sports Festival as a way to give back to his community, and was just inducted into the Liberty County Sports Hall of Fame.
- Karen Guregian notes that starting today, the Patriots can assign Vince Wilfork their lone franchise designation and lock him up for one season at $7.003 million, which is just what the team is expected to do.
- Mike Reiss reports that a turning point is near for the Patriots' Vince Wilfork: Will he be franchised?
- Christopher Price notes today marks the first big milestone in the NFL’s offseason calendar — the first day of a two-week window that teams can place either the franchise or transition tag on players.
- Albert Breer analyzes the Patriots coordinator situation with Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports.
- Mark Farinella notes that earthquake-ravaged Haiti will be the beneficiary of the NFL's pre-printed Colts' Super Bowl XLIV Champion T-shirts and apparel. Good move by the humanitarian organization, World Vision.
- Kerry Byrne asserts the Cold Hard Football Facts prove Manning is far from greatest.
- John Oehser (Boston Examiner) Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian: "We did everything right. We just did not execute."
- Michael Hurley says the Patriots can learn a lot from the Super Bowl champion Saints.
- Mike Reiss notes Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. focuses on SoCal's TE Anthony McCoy who might be a good fit for the Patriots.
- Ian Rapoport presents the restricted free agent (RFA) tenders for 2010.
- Gary Guyton will host the first annual Georgia Sports Festival as a way to give back his alma mater the Bradwell Institute, and to benefit the area.
Patty Leon (Coastal Courier) Guyton reflects on second season. Nice interview with Guyton.
- Tim Graham (ESPN) John Clayton looks at the mammoth contract extensions Brady, Manning and Brees are expected to receive. Who will be the highest paid? (2.24 min. video)
- Mike Freeman (CBS Sports) Greatest of all time? Manning's case takes serious hit.
- Jason Cole (Yahoo! Sports) Big Ben towers over Manning in playoffs.
- Tim Keown (ESPN) The Peyton Manning debate: In excess. Some would have us believe he went from greatest ever to classic choker on Sunday.
- Carlos Frias (The Palm Beach Post) Peyton Manning alone at the top, alone at the bottom after Super Bowl loss.
- Paul Kuharsky (ESPN) Parsing Polian: Kuharsky touches on a few of Polian's points from his post Super Bowl radio appearance.
- Paul Kuharsky (ESPN) Looking back at Colts' goats and gaffes.
- Mike Florio (Sporting News) Uncapped year could be far tamer than ever expected.
- Andrew Brandt (Nat'l Football Post) TV ratings show the power of the NFL.
- Ryan Fowler (WhatIfSports) All-Time Super Bowl Power Rankings for all 44 Super Bowl Champions.
- Barry Jackson (Pro Football Weekly) CBS' coverage only somewhat 'Super'.
- Inside the NFL: An uncapped year, Michael Vick's future and more 2010 storylines. (SI)
- Steve Wyche (NFL.com) Expect Favre, other QBs to dominate off-season discussion.
- Dave Hyde (Florida Sun Sentinal) Rex Ryan bares belly to out-ugly Panthers. Warning: Flesh alert.
- Michael David Smith (ProFootballTalk) Mayock: Tebow has work to do but may be worth the risk.
- Tim Graham (ESPN) Get your AFC East mocks off. Three of the ten have Pats taking Florida LB Brandon Spikes.