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News » Big dollars on the line

Big dollars on the line

Big dollars on the line
FOXBORO - While there have been talks between the two sides, there has not been much in the way of substantial movement toward locking up Vince Wilfork for the foreseeable future.

Given the nose tackle's contract isn't up until after the 2009 season, it's still early in the negotiating game, and there's no real reason to rush, except this is the type of impact player teams don't like to see reach Free Agency.

Wilfork's performance in Sunday's 48-28 pounding of Miami just served as a bold, in-your-face reminder of his importance to the Pats defensive line, and the defense as a whole. He was a force, dominating Dolphins center Samson Satele, and, in turn, disrupting the running game including the vaunted ``Wildcat'' formation.

Talk about having a great bargaining chip on film.

The Pats have already tipped their hand in what they feel about keeping top defensive linemen, as both Ty Warren and Richard Seymour got deals extended prior to their rookie contracts expiring.

When Wilfork opens up, he's told everyone where his heart lies - he wants to stay with the Pats for the rest of his career.

``I want to end my career here. I want my Football career to end in New England,'' he said in October. ``If they don't know, I'm pretty sure you guys will let them know how much I love it here. I don't want to go anywhere else. When I signed here, the first thing I said in my press conference, `I want to start a Patriot, and I want to end a Patriot.' ''

The question remains, will this turn nasty or work out happily ever after, so Wilfork doesn't have to cut the chord with the Pats and test Free Agency after 2009?

Warren's deal came and went without so much as a peep. He re-upped, signing a five-year, $36 million extension that locked him up through 2013. Seymour held out of camp in 2005, and got a $1 million raise before signing a four-year extension in 2006 for $30 million.

Wilfork? Let's just say there won't be any hometown discount, according to a source close to the Pro Bowl defensive lineman.

What will be interesting is what Tennessee's Albert Haynesworth, regarded as the premier defensive tackle in the game, lands in Free Agency. He held the Titans franchise tag this season, but figures to set the market down the road.

``With defense, it all starts with your defensive line,'' said former Pats linebacker Steve Nelson. ``If you start losing at the line of scrimmage, it makes it so difficult for the linebackers to run and pursue because you're running over feet, and you've got all this junk in front of you.

``It always starts with the front three and their ability to hold the line of scrimmage.''

In a 3-4 alignment, someone with Wilfork's ability can occupy more than one blocker, maintain that line of scrimmage, and make plays. As Steelers coach Mike Tomlin pointed out Wednesday, finding a good nose tackle, one with the size and agility of a Wilfork, gets harder each year.

``They are getting increasingly tough to find,'' Tomlin said. ``That's why most of the people that have got a good one, they've found them in the first round of drafts.''

Wilfork's athleticism was on full display in Miami. Just ask Dolphins center Satele.

``He's got my Pro Bowl vote. That's how good he is,'' Satele said yesterday in Miami. ``He's the best guy I've faced this year so far other than (Jason Ferguson) in training camp. Everybody underestimates his height, but he's so stout and will fire off at the perfect time. He's just smart and strong, that's a hard noseguard.''

That's why his contract situation bears watching.

- kguregian@bostonherald.com

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 29, 2008

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