FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots announced that they are utilizing the franchise designation on nose tackle Vince Wilfork in an effort to continue negotiating a long-term agreement. The franchise designation was first used by the Patriots in 2002 when the team applied it to retain the rights to Adam Vinatieri. The designation was later removed when the two sides agreed to a three-year contract extension.
A statement from the Patriots: "A long-term agreement with Vince Wilfork has been the team's top contractual priority for some time. Unfortunately, despite numerous conversations and proposals, the goal has not yet been realized. Vince is a tremendous player for our team and remains a significant part of our future plans. It is because of Vince's importance to this organization that we have assigned the franchise designation as we continue to work toward a long-term agreement. We are hopeful that Vince will remain a Patriot for many years to come."
Wilfork, 28, has played in 90 regular season games, including 80 as a starter, and has appeared in 12 playoff games with 10 starts since being selected by the Patriots in the first round (21st overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-2-inch, 325-pound nose tackle has recorded 449 tackles (257 solo) and 7.5 sacks for his career. The University of Miami product was selected by his teammates to be a captain in 2008 and 2009. The Patriots' defense has finished in the top 10 four times in Wilfork's six seasons.
Last season, Wilfork started 13 regular season and one playoff game at nose tackle and was elected to the Pro Bowl after leading the Patriots defensive linemen with 65 total tackles, which ranked fifth on the team. He was also credited with two passes defensed and one forced fumble. In 2008, he started 16 games and tallied 85 tackles, two sacks and a pass defensed. During the Patriots' undefeated regular season in 2007, Wilfork started 16 games, earning his first Pro Bowl selection and being named to the Associated Press All-Pro Second Team after recording 70 tackles, two sacks, two passes defensed and a fumble recovery. He added 18 tackles in three playoff games and started in his second Super Bowl. In 2006, Wilfork recorded 81 tackles, one sack, one pass defensed and a fumble recovery. In 2005, he started 16 games and led all Patriots defensive linemen with 91 tackles, adding a half a sack, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery. As a rookie in 2004, Wilfork appeared in 16 games and tallied 57 tackles, two sacks, three passes defensed and two fumble recoveries. He was one of two rookies to start for the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.