So a little before noon yesterday word starting leaking out of Foxboro that the Patriots had slapped Vince Wilfork with the franchise tag. No big deal was my first inclination. My thought was they weren’t able to finalize the long term deal and knew the negotiation window was closing so they gave him the franchise tag with hopes of working out a long term deal.
Mrs. Wilfork agrees with me (from her Twitter):
“After six years of dedicated service I do understand this is a business. With that being said it is my hope that the tag is applied for its true purpose. For the purpose of allotting more time for us to continue our talks and be able to reach a long term agreement. Only time will tell what the final result will be.”
The team apparently does too in this statement:
“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.”
Let’s just hope the two sides playing grab ass really mean it and they work out a long term deal. It’ll save the fans from another attempt at filling the gap with bums like Ron Brace.
But like the headline says, as Patriots fans we have to hope that this is step one of many. Teams have till Thursday to assign the franchise tag and all indications are that the Panthers are not going to assign the tag to Julius Peppers. There should be a plane ticket for Julius where ever he is, first class to Boston or Providence, a car waiting for him at the airport and a lucrative contract waiting for him to sign at Foxboro.
Julius would be step two.
That would give the Patriots a run stuffing nose tackle under contract (assuming Wilfork signs the offer) and the pass rush the Pats so desperately needed last year in Peppers. The only thing that could make it sweeter would be the signing of a shut down corner. There aren’t that many of those in the league but re-signing Leigh Bodden would certainly be a boost to the secondary.
Now for all of you licking your chops for a possible Ladainian Tomlinson signing I caution you. Remember, this guy is the same guy that broke down by playoff time several years in a row. So signing him with the intent that he’d be your feature back is a pipe dream. However, if you sign him to take the place of Fred Taylor and use him in tandem with Morris, Faulk and Maroney (assuming he’s with the team) you may have something. LT would be used less than in San Diego meaning he would likely have legs come playoff time. A clock killing running back was something the Pats were missing this past season (among other things).
So what we’re hoping for as an exciting off-season in Foxboro has started. The first domino has dropped of what should be many. After seeing a divisional rival get further in the playoffs than they did and a conference rival win the whole thing, the Pats should be hungry. Again, let’s hope it’s mercenary hungry and they bring in a bunch of hired guns.