As a player with six years of NFL experience and a contract that expired at the end of the season, New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is about to become an unrestricted free agent.
And Wilfork says that if the Patriots restrict his movement by slapping him with the franchise tag, they might as well slap him in the face.
“I did honor my six-year deal. Now, that six-year deal is up. It’s time for me to move forward, with the Patriots or not with the Patriots,” Wilfork said today on WEEI. “[A franchise tag] is decent money for most people out there. What I do, it’s okay.
“But I don’t look at myself as an okay player,” Wilfork continued. “Like I said, it’s just basically a slap in my face and it’s insulting to me to tell me I’m an okay player.”
The 28-year-old Wilfork says he plans to sign a multi-year contract with whatever team makes him the best offer, and he doesn’t sound keen on the idea of providing the Patriots with a deal at a discount price.
“I want a long-term deal or I want to be free. Point blank. That’s how I’m looking at it, that’s how my family is looking at it,” Wilfork said. “I’m not selling my family short and I’m definitely not selling myself short just to stay back and to win and to be part of a great organization.”
One of the reasons the Patriots have become a great organization is that they haven’t overpaid to keep veteran players around past their primes. Which means the Patriots’ needs and Wilfork’s desires may not align this off-season.