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New England Patriots Links 2/23/10 - Optimism For Wilfork, Patriots To Work Out A Deal

<em>Maybe the Pats can bring in Monty Hall to get this done</em>.
Maybe the Pats can bring in Monty Hall to get this done.

The New England Patriots announce they will utilize the franchise designation on nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

"A long-term agreement with Vince Wilfork has been the team's top contractual priority for some time. Unfortunately, despite numerous conversations and proposals, the goal has not yet been realized. Vince is a tremendous player for our team and remains a significant part of our future plans. It is because of Vince's importance to this organization that we have assigned the franchise designation as we continue to work toward a long-term agreement. We are hopeful that Vince will remain a Patriot for many years to come."

Tom E. Curran says it's not tag; it's let's make a deal.

My belief -- after reading the tea leaves and talking briefly with people on both sides prior to the Great Tagging Event -- is that this is way closer to getting done than I figured. You can tell that, right now, neither side wants to piss the other off unnecessarily. Now, this era of good feeling could evaporate with one phone call but negotiations are ongoing which is better than what was going on before the franchise period opened on February 11.

The Wilforks want the Patriots to do the right thing. The Patriots want to do the right thing for Wilfork and themselves. Agreeing on what exactly is the right thing is the obstacle to clear now.

Jeff Howe looks at how the franchising of Vince Wilfork could impact the Patriots' relationship with other players.

If the two sides fail to reach an agreement by July 15, this episode could have detrimental effects in the future. First, the Patriots have to wonder if they’ll get the same effort out of Wilfork, who has been a model citizen in Foxborough in the hopes the team will reward him with a long-term contract. While he’s always been an extreme professional, it’s never easy to forecast how players react after they’ve been angered at the negotiating table.

But it’s not just Wilfork the Patriots have to worry about. They’ve got guys in the locker room such as safety Brandon Meriweather (signed through 2011), wide receiver Wes Welker (2011) and linebacker Jerod Mayo (2012) who have all been paying close attention to this situation. They saw Wilfork act the right way, report to all of his mandatory summer workouts and even play hurt during his contract year. Yet, Wilfork hasn’t been rewarded for it just yet.

Even further than that, free agents and draftees will be more aware of the Patriots’ business patterns. Until a rookie pay scale is put in place, the team’s draft picks -- and their agents -- might try to be more aggressive with their contract demands because of the uncertainty over a second contract years down the road. If they know they could be held hostage by the organization, via restricted free agency or the franchise tag, they might be looking for more loot in their rookie deal.