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Wilfork Signs Three-Year Extension With Patriots

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Vince Wilfork will stay in New England after asking to be released earlier this month. (Photo by Al Pereira/New York Jets/Getty Images.)
Vince Wilfork will stay in New England after asking to be released earlier this month. (Photo by Al Pereira/New York Jets/Getty Images.)

On a day when a fellow AFC East team signed running back Knowshon Moreno, the restructing of defensive tackle Vince Wilfork's contract comes as a great relief to the New England Patriots organization.  Wilfork signed a three-year, $22.5 million extension on Thursday to stay in Foxboro. The deal has Wilfork earning up to $8 million in 2014 with $3 million guaranteed and options for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, a source told the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian.

Wilfork’s tension with the Patriots mounted when he asked for a release this month, but the issue appears to be resolved.

His presence in the locker room and on the field is one that only a few players could possibly replace. The news strengthens the Pats’ defense that allowed the third most rushing yard per game (134.1 ypg) in the NFL. His absence due to an Achilles injury was a huge factor in the run defense’s struggles. It may be hard to project his physical abilities because the Achilles is a tough injury to rehab at his size. But, when healthy, Wilfork and Tommy Kelly should be one of the strongest run-stopping duos in the league.

This news is the beginning of the end to what has been an expensive free agency period for New England. The team is aggressively stacking assets for another run at a Super Bowl. With quarterback Tom Brady reaching 36 years old, the Pats’ opportunities for another Super Bowl run are limited. The Pats will likely sign a few more players – perhaps LeGarrette Blount and an interior linebacker – before the draft, but the necessary movements have already been made.

Defensive back Aqib Talib departed for Denver, but was immediately replaced by Darrelle Revis. Wide receiver Julian Edelman tested the free agency market and ended up resigning after visiting other teams.  The Patriots also added insurance policies at cornerback and wide receiver with Brandon Browner and Brandon Lafell.

With Wilfork set to return to the locker room with the additions of several new players, it appears – on paper – that the Patriots had a successful free agency period.