Patriots Who Deserve Contract Extensions
The New England Patriots always have one eye towards the future. Like most NFL teams, the Patriots identify players they want to keep for the long-term and then try and extend them before their contract expires. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Nevertheless, there are a few Patriots who are a year or two away from free agency that deserve contract-extensions before they become free-agents.
The linebacker that’s played everywhere on the team, he looks and plays like Patriot-legend Mike Vrabel. Currently a defensive end, Ninkovich is coming off his best season that included eight sacks and five forced fumbles. Ninkovich was an unknown when he came to the Patriots in 2009, having been cut by the Saints when he lost a long-snapper battle down there. Now, he’s one of New England’s best defensive players. Ninkovich enters the last year of his deal and the Patriots should extend a defender who is crucial to its success.
The corner back from Tampa has produced since he was traded to New England in the middle of last season. Talib quickly became the number one corner back and re-signed with the team during free agency on a one-year deal. Talib is banking on having a big year so he can go out and get a big deal on the open market. However, he has also shown a new commitment to the team and football, winning one of the ten offseason awards given to players the coaching staff feels worked the hardest. Perhaps the Patriots approach Talib and his representatives soon and try and strike a long-term, team-friendly deal. The question is whether Talib would be willing to take it.
While McCourty still has two years on his deal, he is the ultimate Patriot and could be a pillar of the team for years to come. Like Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork, he is a team –captain that brings versatility who is willing to do whatever it takes. While McCourty has been up-and-down at CB, he has turned it around playing at safety. Like the team did with Mayo a few years ago, the Patriots should make him a Patriot for the long-term.
The man in the middle is also the heart of the Patriots defense. Beside Tom Brady, Wilfork is the Patriots most important player, one they almost lost in 2009 after a contract squabble. The team finally paid Wilfork what he deserved and he’s been with the team ever since, even elevating his game the last two years. While Wilfork will turn 32 this season and still has two years left on his deal, the team would be wise to avoid the mistake of 2009 and extend him sooner rather than later. While Wilfork may take a discount to stick with the team due to his age, his performance dictates he should be paid like a top DT. Wilfork is the most indispensable player on this list. The Patriots may just have to bite the bullet and pay the man.
Wendell stepped in last year, wrangling the starting center position away from Dan Koppen. Ever since, he’s proven to be one of the Patriots best offensive linemen. While 16 games is a short span, the Patriots know enough about him to decide whether they are comfortable with re-signing him or not. Offensive-line continuity is important in the NFL, something the Patriots will benefit from in 2013 as all five starters from 2012 return. Losing Wendell would most likely shift Dan Connolly back to center, where he started in 2011, and then move Marcus Cannon to right guard. Wendell has worked hard, having been with the Patriots since 2008. The Patriots should reward that hard work.