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Vince Wilfork's Top Three Options: Houston, Indianapolis, Baltimore

The Patriots might be on the outside looking in for Vince Wilfork's services.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots signing of Alan Branch might actually be closely related to the status of Vince Wilfork. While a Wilfork return is not out of the question, the 2-year, $6.6 million contract for Branch could be connected to the confidence in the captain's return.

Wilfork left a door open for the Patriots, but after having his contract restructured, or terminated, two seasons in a row, New England can't count on a strong hometown discount. Especially not when Wilfork's services are highly sought after.

Of course, $5 million per season is far less than what Wilfork was slated to earn under his prior contract with the Patriots (scheduled for $8.5 million in 2015). Still, if it's a bunch of losing teams vying for his services, perhaps New England could still have an inside edge?

Two of those are the absolute worst places Wilfork could possibly end up, with only the Denver Broncos rivaling the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens in terms of despair a Wilfork signing would inflict on the New England fan base.

If the Patriots don't provide an offer near the $5 million, then New England will likely watch their defensive captain suit up for one of their main rivals.

Houston, please step up your offer. Please.