Ben Volin of the Boston Globe breaks down some of the big decisions the Patriots will be faced with in the coming months.
According to Volin, one of the more obvious moves for the Patriots to make this offseason is to restructure the contract of NT Vince Wilfork.
As things stand right now, Wilfork is projected to count $11.6 million against the team’s 2014 salary cap, and while he’s been a very important part of their defense for several years, he represents the easiest source of cap space by reworking his current deal.
They could free up about $8 million in cap space by releasing him outright, but that seems like an unlikely option, even though he will be 33 next year and is coming off of a season-ending injury.
Volin expects the Pats to approach him regarding a five-year extension that would prorate a signing bonus over the course of the contract and bring his cap figure to something in the $4 – $5 million range.
According to Volin, “the most rational approach” for the Patriots regarding impending free agent CB Aqib Talib would be to apply their franchise tag to him.
This would cost New England $11 million guaranteed for the 2014 season, but it would also ensure that their best cornerback returns for another season while also giving them additional time to get a long-term contract worked out.
Volin adds that giving Talib a long-term deal with as much as $20 million guaranteed could be a move that comes back to haunt them.
Talib, 27, came over from the Buccaneers in return for a fourth-round pick. Since then, Talib has been the Patriots best cover corner and started the season off great before injuries appeared to take a toll. He was voted to his first Pro Bowl this year and was even named a second team All-Pro cornerback.
Talib should have no trouble finding interest during free agency and could come close to securing as much as $20 million guaranteed in his next contract, which would leave him close to the top-five highest paid corners in the league. The Patriots have some cap space to work with, but they could probably use some more if they plan on locking up Talib long-term. It seems likely that the Patriots will approach some of their high-priced players about restructuring their contracts.
We have him listed as the No. 20 player in our Top 50 Free Agents list.
Volin believes WR Julian Edelman is a “must-sign” following a breakout season for the Patriots.
Volin cites Edelman’s “toughness, durability, and skill as a receiver, and his elite abilities as a punt returner” as the obvious reasons to get a long-term deal in place.
We have him listed as the No. 40 player in our Top 50 Free Agents list.
- Volin believes the Patriots should attempt to sign TE Tony Gonzalez, even though he is expected to retire.
- Volin believes the Patriots should try to restructure G Dan Connolly’s contract as well or possibly release him outright.
- K Stephen Gostkowski could be in line for a contract extension, according to Volin.
- Volin mentions that the Patriots should target a veteran defensive lineman in free agency and specifically mentions Ravens DE Arthur Jones and Dolphins DE Randy Starks as potential options.
- Volin adds that New England should target offensive line in this years draft.