It is now decision time for all of the teams in the NFL. With the NFL new year and free agency less than a week away, and the draft just over two months away, the New England Patriots have many personnel decisions to make. Starting nose tackle Vince Wilfork is currently under contract through next season. But, with an $11.6 million cap hit for the 2014-15 season, his time on the team could be limited.
I’m a firm believer that he’s worth keeping around. He is coming off a major Achilles injury and is 32 years old, but has many traits a fairly young Patriots team can benefit from. Plus, he is a favorite of head coach Bill Belichick, who knows what he’s doing, to say the least. Wilfork’s cap hit for next year can be reduced as well.
One way for the Patriots to reduce the cost of Wilfork is to cut him, which I would advise against. Another is to sign him to a new two-year (at minimum) deal and make the contract back-loaded or incentive based. That way he costs less and earns his money, and can still be a leader to the younger guys on the team like he has been recently. He was also on the last Super Bowl winning team for the Patriots and has been a bright spot on a not-as-good defensive team ever since.
Wilfork’s age is really the only thing holding him back right now, anyway. Injuries come with that too, especially since he had never missed more than three games in a year before last season. Drafting or signing a young nose tackle to learn from Wilfork is the Patriots’ best bet in securing their future at the position. Keeping Wilfork in New England for the next few years to help in the process of eventually replacing him is a must.