Ever since Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork went down with a torn achilles tendon in the first month of the 2013 NFL season, many have wondered what the team would do with his pending 2014 salary cap charge of $11.6 million. The Patriots haven't been considered likely to cut Wilfork outright, but instead a contract extension and lowering of the 2014 hit has been speculated.
Yesterday evening, Tom Curran of CSNNE reported that the Patriots are indeed trying to convince Wilfork to restructure:
Over the next four days, the Patriots will be trying to convince Vince to trim that cap hit down by taking a restructured deal.
And - given his age and recent injury history - they may be asking him to take a pay cut as well (I don't know that to be the case, by the way, it is a presumption).
Asking Wilfork to take a pay cut for 2014 could be where things go awry in negotiations. Wilfork, despite his injured 2013 season, has done everything to earn every dollar of the contract extension he signed in 2010. The more likely route the Patriots take will be to reduce his hit for 2014, and fully guarantee whatever he gives up this year into future years of an extension.
Assuming that is the direction that the Patriots take, the question then becomes, what is Wilfork work? Any extension he is given will be paying him starting at his age 34 season. For a man as massive as he, coming off such a serious injury, there's some significant risk there. That's why it may be smart for Wilfork to take a below-market deal that gets him guarantees for future seasons but still pays him reasonably well.
Here's a quick contract compromise that I came up with:
$5 million removed from the 2014 cap hit, reducing it to $5.6 million
That $5 million is fully guaranteed via signing bonus over two year extension that runs through 2016
Extension is worth $12 million over those two years, bringing his cap hit to $8.5 million in 2015 and 2016
2015 base salary is fully guaranteed for skill and injury, 2016 is $3 million guaranteed for skill only
Do you think both sides would find something like that fair? As Richard Hill pointed out the other day, this would follow the blueprint that the Steelers created with Troy Polamalu. If you were the Patriots' front office, how would you proceed with the Vince Wilfork situation?