NEW: Vince Wilfork Releases Statement As Patriots Decline His Option
Thursday, March 05, 2015
Wilfork released a statement via twitter:
Morning guys ... Please read below this will be my only statement pic.twitter.com/gClv03hqet— Vince Wilfork (@wilfork75) March 5, 2015
Vince Wilfork, 33, would have been owed a $4 million bonus had he been on the roster when the new league year began. Had Wilfork stayed, he would have made a base salary of $3 million but would have counted $8.9 million against the Salary Cap.
By releasing Wilfork, the Patriots save a little over $8 million on their salary cap.
Wilfork won two Super Bowls with the Patriots and has been selected to five Pro Bowls and chosen as an All-Pro five times.
Related Slideshow: 10 Moves the Patriots Need to Make This Off Season
The New England Patriots just won their fourth Super Bowl in the Brady/ Belichick era, beating Seattle 28 - 24. However, before the Pats get ready to go for repeat, they have some significant off season decisions to make.
Here are 10 moves the Patriots need to make this off season.
Decide On Brian Tyms
The Patriots have the luxury of having a very deep roster going into 2015. They have very few players that are up in free agency, but one of those players is Brian Tyms. Tyms is an exclusive rights free agent who will not demand a big contract.
Tyms did play a role in the Patriots offense in 2014, however. Although he finished with just five receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown, Tyms served as a deep threat that had not previously existed. He showed flashes of good play in preseason and in the regular season, and could be a good depth move if the Patriots decide to offer him a contract.
Solder had an up and down year in New England. There were points in the season where the Patriots would even sub in backup Marcus Cannon at left tackle because Solder’s play was so inconsistent. Solder did improve as the year continued, and played his best game of the season in the Super Bowl.
The question lies in the value of Solder’s contract for 2015. He will be owed $7.4 million, fully guaranteed, due to the option at the end of his rookie contract that the Patriots exercised. Many speculate that the Patriots do not like Solder at that number, but according to Greg Bedard of The MMQB the Patriots are extremely high on Solder. Bedard said that offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo said he would only take Dallas’ Tyron Smith over Solder when it came to left tackles in the NFL.
Do not expect anything to happen here, but the Patriots could try to work out a long-term extension for Solder to bring his cap number down.
Find Defensive Line Depth
Vince Wilfork came back with a vengeance in 2014. The defensive tackle missed nearly all of 2013 due to injury, but came back with 47 tackles and looked dominant in the middle, at times, in 2014. HE is going to be 34, however.
The help behind Wilfork is pretty thin. Inside, Wilfork has Alan Branch, Joe Vellano and Chris Jones with him for 2015. Seaver Siliga will be an exclusive rights free agent, and will likely be back. While there are a lot of big bodies, the Patriots need to get more quality depth.
The Patriots could dip into free agency, but will have limited money due to other contracts. Names such as Corey Peters of the Atlanta Falcons or former Patriot and current Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Tommy Kelly could appeal to New England.
Interior OL Help
When the Patriots struggled in 2014, it was because the offensive line was in shuffle mode. The interior of the line went through the most changes. Whether it was Jordan Devey, Cam Fleming, Josh Kline or others, the Patriots lacked depth on the interior of the line. They were forced to move former center Ryan Wendell out to guard. While Wendell did play well, he is not seen as a must-start on the line.
The Patriots will also have to content with other teams to re-sign Dan Connolly, who will be a free agent. Connolly is likely to come back, but if he does it will have to be at a reduced rate from his $3 million he earned in 2014.
This could be a spot that the Patriots target in the NFL Draft, going after a player such as Laken Tomlinson from Duke or others.
Make Decision On Amendola
Many thought the only reason the Patriots kept Danny Amendola for 2014 was because his contract was guaranteed. While that may have been true, Amendola was impressive at the end of the regular season and throughout the playoffs. Amendola played key roles in the Patriots playoff win over the Baltimore Ravens and in Super Bowl XLIX.
Amendola carries a $5.7 million cap hit in 2015, but the Patriots could get out from under the rest of his contract for less that $4 million. Another option could be to restructure Amendola’s contract and attempt to free more money to help sign other players on the roster. One thing is almost certain, Amendola will not be playing on the Patriots under his current contract in 2014.
Restructure Mayo's Deal
Jerod Mayo has become a household name in New England. The captain has unfortunately missed the past two seasons with injuries. He is also due over $6 million in base salary in 2015, a number that the Patriots are likely going to try to get rid of.
Mayo, much like Vince Wilfork in 2014, will have to decide if playing in New England for less money, or moving elsewhere is best for his career. Expect Mayo to come back, but expect his number to be much lower.
Running Back Options
The Patriots have a large number of running backs on their roster — seven if you count the active roster and injured reserve. Two of their premier backs, Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley, are at the end of their rookie contracts. While neither back should demand a huge contract, it is unlikely that both are back in 2015.
Vereen just capped his 2014 with an impressive 11-catch day in the Super Bowl, making it likely that teams will covet his skills as a receiving back. Ridley missed a majority of the year with a knee injury, and will likely only get a 1-year contract.
The Patriots will have to decide if Ridley is an option to return, or if going with LeGarrette Blount and Tyler Gaffney, another back currently on injured reserve, will be the route they chose. The Patriots will also need to make a decision on 2014 draft pick James White, who could be a replacement for Vereen after essentially red shirting in 2014.
Keep The Kicker
Kicker contracts are rarely talked about, but when that kicker is your team’s all-time leading scorer the dialog changes. Stephen Gostkowski is one of the highest paid kickers in the game, and he should continue to be.
Gostkowski will be entering his 10th year in New England, and is arguably the best kicker in the game. Gostkowski hit 35-of-37 field goals in 2014 and was one of the premier kickoff men in the NFL. They Patriots were in a similar situation with Adam Vinatieri 10 years ago, and he is still one of the top kickers in the NFL.
These words may never be written again, but pay the kicker.
Tag or Extend McCourty
Devin McCourty has ascended to being one of the top safety’s in the NFL. When combined with cornerbacks such as Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner in 2014, he flourished. McCourty will be a free agent in 2015, and needs to be a high priority free agent for New England.
McCourty made close to $4 million in base salary in 2014, and will likely be looking for a boost. The Patriots and McCourty’s camp have reportedly been in contract talks for an extended period of time. If they are unable to work out a long-term deal, the Patriots could place the franchise tag on McCourty. The franchise tag number for a safety is projected to be $9.53 million in 2015, a high number but one that could keep a very good defensive backfield intact.
Bring Revis Back
There is no question, Darrelle Revis is the top offseason question for the Patriots. Revis is technically under contract for 2015, but would cost the Patriots $20 million and $25 million against the salary cap. While they are unlikely to keep Revis at that number, they might have to in order to keep one of the best defensive backs in the NFL in New England.
Revis will undoubtedly be looking to become the highest paid corner back in the league if the Patriots try to work out an extension with him. Revis would look to exceed the $14 million that Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson are making, and would likely want more guaranteed money. This might be a tough call to make for the Patriots, but expect Revis to be on the field again in Foxboro next season.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Campbell, Flickr
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