The Patriots needed to save money. Vince Wilfork needed to save face.
A creative contract crafted by the two sides lets either one claim victory depending on the way it’s viewed. But the construction is so heavily based on health and snaps played, it’s easy to see Wilfork feeling dismayed if he misses some of the valuable accelerators by the slimmest of margins
The details, laid out by Field Yates of ESPNBoston on Saturday, are fascinating.
Before the renegotiation, Wilfork was due to make $7.5M in salary which would all be guaranteed once he made the team coming out of training camp. He carried an $11.6M cap hit.
Now, Wilfork can actually earn $8M in the 2014 season and it can be spun as a raise if the Wilfork camp so chooses.
But Wilfork has to pass a pile of checkpoints to earn that. The realistic base amount Wilfork will earn is $3.1M. ($1.3M to sign, $1.3M base, $300K weight clause and $200K workout bonus).
After that, it’s all based on how much Wilfork plays. If he plays every game of the season, 70 percent of the overall defensive snaps (not sure if fourth down special teams plays figures into that total), and the team reaches the Divisional Playoffs and finished in the top 10 in scoring defense, Wilfork makes $8M.
If Wilfork isn’t ready for the opener as he comes off his torn Achilles, take off $500K. Every game he’s inactive, he loses $87.5K. If he fails to play 70 percent of the plays, subtract another $3M since the top 10 defense and Divisional Playoff appearance comes off the rolls if he doesn’t hit the 70 percent accelerator. If he plays less than 60 percent of the plays, lop off another $1.25M. If he doesn’t play 50 percent of the plays, take off another $500K.
So it will be a big deal if the Patriots want Wilfork to begin the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, meaning he’ll miss the first six games and $1.125M in opening day and active roster bonuses. That would also mean an uphill climb to the 70 percent threshold.
In 2015, Wilfork can make another $8M if he collects his $4M roster bonus on the first day of the league year, his $3M base salary, $500K in weight and workout bonuses and plays every game ($500K in per game bonuses). There will most likely be some intrigue in early March of 2015 as the Patriots decide whether or not to make that $4M roster bonus decision.
So for now, it’s settled. But the drama with Wilfork may not be done.