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Wilfork talks contract

01.27.10 at 12:21 pm ET
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Vince Wilfork said Wednesday morning he played fair with the Patriots by honoring his outdated six-year rookie deal, but as both sides try and hammer out a new agreement, the Pro Bowl nose tackle said he’€™s not getting the same treatment from the franchise.

‘€œI signed up for a six-year deal, and I honored it. I didn’€™t like the six-year deal, but I did honor my six-year deal,’€ he told WEEI (listen to the complete interview here). ‘€œAnd now that deal is up, it’€™s time for me to move forward. If that’€™s with the Patriots or without the Patriots.

‘€œLike I said, I wouldn’€™t change what I’€™ve done. If I had to do it all over again, I’€™d do the same thing. I’€™d try for a five-year deal ‘€” which we tried but, you know, we didn’€™t get. That’€™s the only thing I’€™d change,’€ he added. ‘€œBut like I said, I did everything the right way, the way it needed to be done. I want the same treatment. I want the same treatment, and that’€™s not happening right now.’€

Wilfork, who just finished the final season of a six-year deal he signed as a rookie prior to the start of the 2004 season, said the two sides haven’€™t talked since before the start of the season.

‘€œI’€™m not sitting by the phone waiting for them to call. Either they call or they don’€™t,’€ said Wilfork, who is home in South Florida preparing for his second Pro Bowl appearance Sunday. ‘€œWhenever they call, they call.’€

Wilfork wants no part of a franchise tag, saying he desires long-term security.

‘€œI want a long-term deal, or I want to be free. Point blank. And that’€™s how I’€™m looking at it,’€ he said. ‘€œThat’€™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.

‘€œYeah, [the franchise tag is] decent money for most people out there. What I do, it’€™s OK,’€ he added. ‘€œBut 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.’€

Wilfork, who was taken 21st overall in the 2004 draft, has risen to become one of the elite nose tackles in the league, an absolute necessity in a 3-4 defense, which the Patriots employ. His durability ‘€” a 51-game consecutive start streak that dated back to 2006 ended late in the 2009 season ‘€” and dependability make him one of the cornerstones of the New England defensive line. The 28-year-old was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2007, and was also a second-team All-Pro that same season.

However, while he did sit out voluntary team activities in the spring of 2009 as a sign of his unhappiness over his contract situation, he was present for the start of training camp. In addition, he continued to be a dominant presence in the middle all season long for the Patriots, maintaining his status as one of the best in the league at his position while flashing some positional versatility with an occasional move to end it the 3-4.

‘€œI’€™m not selling my family short and definitely not selling myself short, just to stay back and stay to win and be part of a great organization,’€ he said. ‘€œThat plays a big part in winning. Winning is a big part of sports. But a lot of teams win. A lot of teams win. We’€™ll see. We’€™ll see. Like I said, we’€™ll do what’€™s best for my family, but I would definitely not sell myself short of my ability. Not at all.’€

He said it’€™s getting more difficult to stay positive about the situation, given the history of how the Patriots have operated in similar situations over the years.

‘€œI’€™m trying not to be negative on it, because I can easily sit back and be negative and say, ‘€˜They’€™re going to franchise me and they’€™re not going to give me the money’€™ because of all the good guys that we’€™ve lost over the years. Asante [Samuel], one of them, [Richard] Seymour, with the trade. [Adam] Vinatieri. [Deion] Branch. Daniel Graham. All these guys I’€™ve named were all great players for the Patriots, and they were in the same predicament as us. Somehow or another, they ended up with different teams. I don’€™t know how it played out, but it played out like that.

‘€œI’€™m trying to keep it positive. That’€™s the only way I can really look at it. Try to look at it in a positive light, because if I look at it in a negative light, I’€™ll be really pissed.’€

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