What now, Vince?
I get your point. You don’t want to do that end-of-contract voodoo that -- voila -- makes your money disappear.
Until we get the details on the request the Patriots made that prompted you to ask for a release, we can’t really divine who the jackass is. If there is one.
The events of this week have shown us it’s a good idea to wait for the fog to lift before firing shots into the murkiness.
I’m imagining, though, that it went something like this.
“Hey Vince, that $7.5 million salary for this year? Let’s make it $3.5 million. We’ll take the $4 million and turn it into signing bonus on the extension. Here, take it . . . It’s yours. Now, the salary we see for 2015 and 2016 is $3 million and $4 million. Cool?”
If that’s the way it went – and I am spitballing – you said, “Why would I play for $7 million in salary over the next two years when all these slappies are going to be making more than that and the cap is going up?”
Excellent point. You want to bet on yourself. And you should. All-Pro in 2012. One of the most disruptive front-seven players in football. Even if you come back at 70 percent, you’re still better than almost all the league’s interior DTs.
Maybe you didn’t even let it get that far. Maybe all you heard was “re . . . ” and cut them off before they got to the “structure” part. Because you’re not doing it. You came in and played under a six-year deal as a rookie and wrestled that contract in 2010 out of the Patriots.
It was a good one, too. Five years, $40 million, $25 million guaranteed, and an $18 million signing bonus. Best contract ever for a DT. And you’ve realized more than $32 million of it. But you want all of it because, hell, that’s what you shook hands on.
But you knew this was coming in March of 2014 back when you signed that deal and realized your cap hit was going to be $11.6 million. You knew they’d come and bug you about chopping that down. It happens to every player north of 30 when their number gets big.
It’s going to happen with Logan Mankins next year and my hunch is that he’ll be as excited about restructuring as you are right now.
People who’ve made $32,000 per year since 2010 will feel badly for you even though you’ve made $32,000,000 in four seasons. You will have the sympathy of the area. Because you were a good guy and a fun guy and played hard and hurt and very, very well.
Nobody will say – at least within arm’s reach – “Vince, you made $6.7 million last year and played four games. Don’t you think the Patriots are being smart to minimize their risk of sinking more than $14 million into you for the last two years of your deal?”
They could. But they won’t. Because they like you. Hell, we all like you.
I just don’t know that it’s going to be any better for you somewhere else. I’d bet on you being damn good again. It ain’t my money, though.
(And you should see the things I’ve bought – wanna buy a hot tub which is currently encased in ice?)
But what are you going to get on the open market? Is someone going to give you more than $7 million as you come back from an Achilles injury at 32? Is anyone going to want to go long-term? Or will you get a bunch of prove-it contracts which – let’s be honest, because you do take things personally – you will feel are insulting.
Maybe you just want to force the Patriots hand now so that you’re on the market when the money hasn’t all been spent. Because the Patriots can squat on you for a while and -- if they think you aren’t ready to operate like Vince Wilfork anymore -- they’d release you into a barren financial wasteland. Relatively speaking.
You were born in a bad year. You came into the league when six-year rookie deals for first-round picks still existed. You contract expired when teams were battening down the hatches in advance of the lockout. Now the salary cap is at $133 million and rising and you’re still under contract and not getting any younger.
And here comes Darrelle Revis, making $16 million last year, $12 million this year and in line to make more than $20 million next year or be released back into free agency. Not. Fair. Notfairnotfairnotfair!
But I hope, just because you’ve been a great player and a pretty stand-up guy and -- from everybody’s account -- a terrific teammate, that we don’t end up at 75 Disrespect Road.
Business-wise, it’s smart for the Patriots to knock your number down and hedge their bets. And it’s your prerogative to tell them you’re not going to do that.
Maybe you already have something lined up somewhere else where you’ll get that $7 million and much, much more. If so, awesome.
I don’t think the Patriots will be better without you. I don’t think the team you go to -- whoever it is -- will be better than the Patriots. But a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.