Thursday, February 18, 2010
Will Pats play tag with Wilfork?
By ESPN.com staff
Over on ESPNBoston.com, Mike Reiss takes a closer look into the tug-of-war between the Patriots and Pro Bowl nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who is an unrestricted free agent.
Halfway through the period where teams can place the franchise tag on players, Reiss reports there's been no movement on either side (the tag deadline is Feb. 25).
Reiss highlights five instances in which the Patriots used the tag in the past eight years and notes that while it's hard to predict what might happen, even if the Patriots apply the tag to Wilfork it might only be to extend the period of negotiation for a contract extension.
One thing is clear.
Writes Reiss: "It's hard to imagine the Patriots' not making every effort to retain Wilfork. Whether he plays in a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive alignment, Wilfork is an upper-echelon interior lineman in the mold of the Vikings' Pat Williams. When Williams started for the Buffalo Bills (2001-04), he was the nose tackle in the middle of a rock-solid 3-4 run defense; now in Minnesota, he anchors the middle of the 4-3 alignment.
"That's one reason why it's a disservice to Wilfork to pigeonhole him as solely a 3-4 nose tackle. Some have suggested the benefits of the Patriots' trading Wilfork and switching to a 4-3 alignment, but regardless of such a switch, the team still would need an athletic run-stuffer in the middle. No one on the present roster is better than Wilfork in that role."