|02.22.10 at 1:04 pm ET|
WEEI.com has learned that the Patriots have assigned the non-exclusive franchise tag to nose tackle Vince Wilfork.
The news that Wilfork was franchised was first reported by the Providence Journal, and later verified by the Patriots via their Twitter page at 1:29 p.m.
Wilfork, who just finished the final season of a six-year contract he signed as a rookie, had expressed anger about the possibility of being franchised by the Patriots, saying that would be a “slap in the face.”
“I want a long-term deal, or I want to be free. Point blank. And that’s how I’m looking at it,” he told WEEI. “That’s how my family is looking at it. It’s a short window of opportunity for me to go and make the type of money that I want to make. And hey, like I said, family comes first.
“Yeah, [the franchise tag is] decent money for most people out there. What I do, it’s OK,” he added. “But I don’t look at myself as an OK player. Like I said, it’s just basically a slap in my face and it’s insulting to me to tell me I’m an OK player.”
The Patriots released a statement on the decision, saying: “A long-term agreement with Vince Wilfork has been the team’s top contractual priority for some time. 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.”
[UPDATE, 1:20 PM] While the Wilfork or his agent Kennard McGuire did not make a statement of their own, Wilfork’s wife Bianca did make a series of announcements via Twitter that read: “In regards to the many calls and emails i am receiving in response to the franchise tag we figured this would be the easiest way to addr[ess] … The franchise tag has been applied. 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 alotting more time for us to continue our talks and be able to reach along term agreement. … Only time will tell what the final result will be.”
|02.22.10 at 12:08 pm ET|
The Patriots announced Monday morning that the field at Gillette Stadium is being resurfaced. Here’s a portion of the press release that was issued by the team:
FOXBOROUGH, MA (February 22, 2010) — The New England Patriots, the New England Revolution and FieldTurf have jointly announced that Gillette Stadium will be resurfaced with FieldTurf Duraspine PRO, the new standard in artificial turf and the latest turf innovation from FieldTurf. The installation of FieldTurf’s Duraspine PRO system is scheduled to begin today. Gillette currently plays host to the Patriots and the Revolution in addition to a variety of other activities including high school and NCAA championships.
The new FieldTurf system will be in place when the Revolution play their 2010 home opener on April 10 against Toronto FC. The first event on the new surface will be the New England Lacrosse Classic on April 3.
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|02.20.10 at 9:08 pm ET|
Randy Moss told reporters on Saturday that he expects 2010 to be his final season in a Patriots uniform.
Speaking at a charity softball game in Florida for former teammate Heath Evans to reporters from the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe, Moss, who is entering the final year of a three-year contract, said he understands the financial realities of the situation if he doesn’t get a new deal from the Patriots. In addition, he added that if that would happen, he would bear no ill will against the organization.
“I understand the beast, the nature of it. I think that just with what I think and what I know I don’t think they’re going to re-sign me back,” he said. “So, after this season, if there is not a lockout, I’ll be looking for a new team. I got a lot of respect for the Patriots and what they did for me and my family. So, the only thing I can do is just play this year out and see what my future holds after that.”
Moss, who turned 33 last month, caught 83 passes for 1,264 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.
“It’s the business of it, man,” Moss said. “You got to understand the business of football. There is not bad blood. There is no animosity on my side or their side. I think it’s just the nature of the business of the NFL.
“You know the Patriots don’t really pay, so when I got my second contract from them that was a blessing in disguise. I understand the business. I don’t think they’re going to re-sign me back. I’m not mad. I’m not bitter. It’s just the way things are in this NFL, so like I said after this year I’ll be looking for a new team. I think so.”
|02.18.10 at 10:47 pm ET|
We have already told you to take everything you read on NFLLabor.com with a grain of salt, but no matter your stance on the state of labor uncertainty facing the league, it is a great one-stop site for all the labor information you need. A recent post provided a complete list of all 235 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents — players with at least six seasons in the league and contracts due to expire — next month. (The site promises to update the list as more signings occur.)
As long as those players avoid the franchise tag (which can be assigned until Feb. 25), they are free to sign with another club in an uncapped 2010 season starting March 5.
That list includes the following Patriots: Tully Banta-Cain, Leigh Bodden, Derrick Burgess, Kevin Faulk, Jarvis Green, Chris Hanson, Stephen Neal, Junior Seau, Benjamin Watson and Vince Wilfork. Other notable players who make the list include Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers, Buffalo wide receiver Terrell Owens, New Orleans safety Darren Sharper, Indianapolis linebacker Gary Brackett, Oakland defensive end Richard Seymour and Arizona linebacker Karlos Dansby.
|02.18.10 at 9:15 pm ET|
Leigh Bodden doesn’t sound like he’s in a rush to get a deal done.
The laconic cornerback, who will likely test the free agent market this spring, told Sirius NFL Radio’s “Late Hits” on Wednesday night that while “first and foremost” he’d like the chance to return to the Patriots, he’s in no rush to get a deal done.
“I think it’s really not time for that,” Bodden said. “I did talk to Bill [Belichick]. But all the business has to be done through my agent and through those guys over there. But I feel like it’s too early, you know? The combine is still around the corner. That’s where a lot of guys talk — you see all the GMs, all the coaches, agents and everything. Right now, I’m just focused on the offseason. Relaxing. Working out, here and there. Trying to stay on top of my cardio and things like that. But nothing major right now.”
Bodden has good reason to sound confident in his situation. The Duquesne product, who signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last offseason, was New England’s most consistent cornerback in 2009. The market for cornerbacks figures to be thin, and coming off a year where he finished with five interceptions (tying a team-high) and 17 passes defensed (best on the team), the 28-year-old figures to land a pretty good payday.
That, combined with the looming labor uncertainty, has him sitting pretty.
“Yeah, there’s not many [corners] to choose from now because the [Collective Bargaining Agreement] not getting done,” Bodden said. “But you never know — it could get done and it might not.”
|02.17.10 at 9:57 pm ET|
How’d you spend your Wednesday? Patriots coach Bill Belichick was spotted in Amherst, watching the UMass women’s lacrosse team lay a 15-6 smackdown on Holy Cross. (Belichick’s daughter, Amanda is an assistant coach for the Minutewomen.)
|02.17.10 at 9:41 pm ET|
Former Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch told the Boston Herald on Wednesday he’d welcome a return to New England, saying it would be “interesting to see” if a deal could be worked out that would bring him back to the Patriots.
Branch, who was traded to Seattle for a first-round pick in 2006 after an acrimonious holdout, said he never wanted to leave New England, where he caught 213 passes in four seasons, including a career-best 78 for 998 yards his final year.
“You know what, I talk to guys all the time,” said Branch, the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX. “I never wanted to leave, nor did Coach Belichick and his staff and the organization want me to leave, either.
“We just couldn’t get the contractual part down. We just couldn’t come to an agreement. And that stuff happens.
“I still love Coach Belichick and if the opportunity presents itself to come back, I would love to be there.”
Branch has played the last four years in Seattle, and has caught 177 passes with the Seahawks despite being dogged by injury over much of his time in Seattle. He remains under contract to the Seahawks, but it’s believed that with a new regime taking charge in Seattle, he could be released or traded. That would pave the way for a possible reunion with quarterback Tom Brady.
“For us to reunite, I don’t know. I would probably be crying at the press conference, if it happens,” he said. “Look, I’ve enjoyed my time with the Seahawks. I would love to stay in Seattle. But if it happens, if it presents itself, that would be great.”
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