*ESPN Boston *reports the two-week window for NFL teams to assign the franchise tag to players began Thursday. This will be an interesting time for the Patriots as they decide how move forward with NT Vince Wilfork. Wilfork adamantly said he wants a long-term deal and it would be a slap in the face to be franchised. If tagged, Wilfork would make $7.003 million next season. The franchise tag is the average of the top five salaries at the position on a one-year deal. Click here to read a few factors that play into getting a Wilfork deal done.
The Boston Herald's Karen Guregian writes the team is expected to franchise Wilforkadding it might get done quickly unless "they [the organization] feel there's an outside chance of striking a long-term deal."
Steve Muench of ESPN's Scouts Inc. *believes Southern California's TE Anthony McCoy could be a fit with the Patriots as reported on *ESPN Boston. "He is not a burner and not as athletic or fast as Jermaine Gresham (of Oklahoma), but he is a far tougher blocker with good hand placement who moves his feet well laterally. He plays with an edge and is not afraid of contact. As a pass catcher, he tracks the ball well and is fast enough to make teams pay when they bite on play-action," explained Muench. It is unknown if TE Benjamin Watson is returning to the team as he's an unrestricted free agent.
The *Boston Globe *listsimportant dates pertaining to the offseason:
Feb. 11: Teams can franchise or transition players
Feb. 24: Combine begins at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis
Feb. 25: Franchise/transition deadline
March 2: Combine ends
March 4: Contracts through 2009 season expire
March 5: Free agency begins
March 5: Deadline to prevent uncapped season
March 15: First possible day for offseason workouts
March 21-24: NFL Annual Meeting
April 22: NFL Draft round 1 in New York (starts on a Thursday at 7:30 p.m.)
April 23: NFL Draft rounds 2-3
April 24: NFL Draft rounds 4-7
End of April/start of May: Patriots rookie camp
May 24-26: NFL Spring Meeting
The Patriots will tender contracts to KStephen Gostkowski, G Logan Mankinsand LB Pierre Woods.*ESPN Boston's *Mike Reiss projects the values and figures of each.