Pats Franchise DT Vince Wilfork: Despite Wilfork not wanting the tag, the Patriots didn’t really have a choice here. Wilfork would have been one of the top players on the open market, and likely signed elsewhere if allowed. New England had to keep Wilfork, easily their best defensive player. The Pats defense might not be on the level it was during their Super Bowl runs, but its still pretty good and Wilfork is the key piece of the unit.
The Patriots did use the ‘nonexclusive’ franchise tag, meaning another team could sign Wilfork and give up two first round picks. Given the excessive price tag it should be safe to say Wilfork will be with New England next season. Now the question is will the Patriots be able to keep Wilfork beyond next season. Wilfork has made it very clear that he either wants to be in New England long term or move on to another team. The Patriots can’t ignore this situation, because the last thing New England needs is for their star defensive player to be unhappy and wanting to play elsewhere.
Chargers Release LT: Monday the San Diego Chargers released their all-time leader in rushing yards, LaDainian Tomlinson, in a cost cutting move. It was not too long ago that Tomlinson was considered the best running back in the league. In just 9 seasons he already ranks 8th on the all-time rushing list with just under 12,500 yards. Tomlinson led the NFL in rushing in both 2006 and 2007, winning MVP honors in ’06. Tomlinson has fallen on hard times since then, and managed just 730 yards on a 3.3 yards per carry average.
This doesn’t mean the door is fully closed on LT’s career. He might have lost a step, and will no longer be a top running back, but he’s not done yet. The good news for Tomlinson is his game wasn’t completely predicated on speed. Tomlinson was always known for his vision and powerful legs, that should help him continue his career. If he can find the right situation and can stay fully healthy, then there is no reason he can’t be an effective ball carrier for a few more seasons.
As for the Chargers, they were in a tough spot here. They didn’t want to see Tomlinson go, but they couldn’t justify paying him millions of dollars for the production he was giving them. Now San Diego will not only have to watch one of their icons leave, a player who as much as anyone is responsible for the success they’ve had over the last 6 seasons. But now they have to find a new feature running back. Its not a great free agent market for running backs, so unless they can find a back in a trade, San Diego will likely draft Tomlinson’s replacement in April.