The Patriots have confirmed that they have filed official paperwork with the NFL today to place the non-exclusive franchise tag on NT Vince Wilfork.
The Patriots had until Friday to franchise Wilfork, but they now ensure they can keep his rights until a further development happens.
The non-exclusive desgination allows Wilfork to visit with other teams, whereas the exclusive tag does not.
The Patriots have three options now: They either can sign him to a one-year franchise tender for just over $7 million per season; they can use the next few months to continue working on a long-term deal to keep Wilfork in New England; they can attempt to trade him. If another team signs Wilfork to an offer sheet, the Patriots would have the option of matching it or receiving two first-round picks in return.
But they made it clear in a team-issued statement that the team’s first inclination is to keep Wilfork in Foxborough.
“A long-term agreement with Vince Wilfork has been the team’s top contractual priority for some time," the statement read. "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 has stated his preference for a long-term contract, hoping he would not have to play for the one-year tender. The team has talked with Kennard McGuire, Wilfork's agent, for more than a year, but no deal has been struck yet.