In response to the news that the Patriots have applied the franchise tag to defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, the first response from the Wilfork family has come from Mrs. Wilfork.
Bianca Wilfork has been heavily involved in her husband’s career. (Some might say she has been too involved.) But on Monday she struck an optimistic tone, without any of the bluster that came from Vince several weeks ago regarding the possible use of the franchise tag.
“After six years of dedicated service I do understand this is a business,” she wrote on her Twitter page. “With that 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.”
In all fairness, that’s not the true purpose of the franchise tag. The true purpose of the franchise tag is to give each team the annual right to squat on one unrestricted free agent. Under the CBA, the only requirement is that the team “have a good faith intention to employ the player . . . during the upcoming season.”
So it’s a year-to-year tool, which allows the team to keep a player without making the large investment that comes from a multi-year deal based on market value. The union and the league recognized this reality in 2006 by increasing dramatically the price for using the franchise tag a third straight time.
Wilfork might get a long-term deal in 2010, and he might have to wait until 2011. Maybe he gets tagged again next year. Regardless, the true purpose is to give the team a chance to keep the player for at least another year or to do a long-term deal on its own terms, without having to worry about the highest bidder driving up the price — unless the highest bidder is willing to give up two first-round draft picks in return.