Player comes to New England. Player plays well for Patriots. Player gets cut when contract becomes too much for salary-team’s cap space, or when Patriots decide player’s best years are behind him.
No New England player gets makeup money, and the team never takes one for the player, no matter how much that player has meant to the franchise on or off the field. That’s just the Patriot Way.
Vince Wilfork was about to learn that the hard way, but the defensive tackle got out in front of it Thursday in the thick of free agency when he reportedly asked the Patriots to cut him loose. Wilfork had been asked to restructure his contract, of which the 2014 season was the last year, but he instead asked to be cut after talks dried up and the Patriots agreed to terms with Darrelle Revis on Wednesday (although it’s unknown if that influenced Wilfork’s decision).
The Patriots certainly can save some cap room by cutting Wilfork, but that also would leave them with some big holes on the defensive line, where they already need pass-rushing help. If New England believes Wilfork still has value to the team and can make the numbers work, the Patriots could try to patch up things.
Most likely, though, Wilfork did on his end what the Patriots were going to do on theirs anyway, leading to another look back at Belichick’s history with revered Patriots players whose usefulness to New England ran out.
How raw is Wilfork’s deal? He was having a down year in 2013 before an Achilles injury sidelined him for the rest of the season, but does he deserve to be cut or have his contract restructured?
Take a look at other Patriots standouts whose time in New England ended with less than rainbows and decide for yourself.