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Peppers will reportedly not get tagged by Panthers 02.22.10 at 11:12 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, the Carolina Panthers will not use the franchise tag this year on defensive end Julius Peppers.

Charlotte’€™s WCNC-TV and ESPN reported Monday evening that the 30-year-old Peppers ‘€” who was hit with the franchise tag in 2009 ‘€” will not be tagged for a second consecutive year by the team, which will leave him as one of the most attractive free agents when the process begins March 5.

The 6-foot-7, 283-pound Peppers has been one of the premier pass rushers over the last decade, compiling 81 sacks, including 10.5 sacks or more in five of the last six seasons with the Panthers. However, after getting hit with the franchise tag last year, he has been clear about his desire to leave Carolina, telling Charlotte radio station WFNZ earlier this month that he used to want to stick around and sign a long-term deal with the Panthers, but those days are over.

‘€œHow can you say you want to be somewhere when you’€™re not really sure if they want you there because they’€™re not even talking to you?’€ Peppers said, who added he’€™s become irritated with Carolina’€™s ‘€œsilent treatment.’€

New England has been listed as a possible destination for Peppers several times over the last year. Before he was tagged by Carolina prior to last season’s free agency period, it was believed the Patriots were ready to make him an offer. In addition, Peppers has been linked to New England on many occasions since the end of the 2009 season.

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Wilfork’s wife comments on franchise tag 02.22.10 at 1:55 pm ET
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While there was no immediate comment from Vince Wilfork or his agent Kennard McGuire in the wake of the Patriots announcement of the franchise tag this afternoon, Wilfork’€™s wife Bianca Tweeted a series of statements shortly after the news broke at her verified account:

‘€œIn regards to the many calls and emails i am receiving in response to the franchise tag we figured this would be the easiest way to addr[ess] ‘€¦ The franchise tag has been applied. After six years of dedicated service i do understand this is a business ‘€¦ With that being said it is my hope that the tag is applied for its true purpose ‘€¦ For the purpose of alotting more time for us to continue our talks and be able to reach along term agreement. ‘€¦ Only time will tell what the final result will be.’€

Bianca has been an outspoken advocate on behalf of her husband, and via Twitter, has made it clear that she has been watching the offseason market closely. In the wake of Tuesday’€™s news that Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski received a four-year, $16 million deal with the Raiders ‘€” with $9 million guaranteed ‘€” Wilfork’€™s wife Bianca Tweeted the following: ‘€œ4 yr 16 mil 9 guarent for yall kicker largest in history.’€ Later, she added ‘€œWow oakland kicker.’€

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Pats statement on franchise designation 02.22.10 at 1:49 pm ET
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A short time ago, the Patriots issued a statement on the franchise tag designation on Vince Wilfork. Here is the full text of that announcement:

The New England Patriots announced that they are utilizing the franchise designation on nose tackle Vince Wilfork in an effort to continue negotiating a long-term agreement. The franchise designation was first used by the Patriots in 2002 when the team applied it to retain the rights to Adam Vinatieri. The designation was later removed when the two sides agreed to a three-year contract extension.

A statement from the Patriots: ‘€œA long-term agreement with Vince Wilfork has been the team’s top contractual priority for some time. 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, 28, has played in 90 regular season games, including 80 as a starter, and has appeared in 12 playoff games with 10 starts since being selected by the Patriots in the first round (21st overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-2-inch, 325-pound nose tackle has recorded 449 tackles (257 solo) and 7.5 sacks for his career. The University of Miami product was selected by his teammates to be a captain in 2008 and 2009. The Patriots’€™ defense has finished in the top 10 four times in Wilfork’€™s six seasons.

Last season, Wilfork started 13 regular season and one playoff game at nose tackle and was elected to the Pro Bowl after leading the Patriots defensive linemen with 65 total tackles, which ranked fifth on the team. He was also credited with two passes defensed and one forced fumble. In 2008, he started 16 games and tallied 85 tackles, two sacks and a pass defensed. During the Patriots’€™ undefeated regular season in 2007, Wilfork started 16 games, earning his first Pro Bowl selection and being named to the Associated Press All-Pro Second Team after recording 70 tackles, two sacks, two passes defensed and a fumble recovery. He added 18 tackles in three playoff games and started in his second Super Bowl. In 2006, Wilfork recorded 81 tackles, one sack, one pass defensed and a fumble recovery. In 2005, he started 16 games and led all Patriots defensive linemen with 91 tackles, adding a half a sack, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery. As a rookie in 2004, Wilfork appeared in 16 games and tallied 57 tackles, two sacks, three passes defensed and two fumble recoveries. He was one of two rookies to start for the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.

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What is the non-exclusive franchise tag? 02.22.10 at 1:32 pm ET
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WEEI has confirmed, via a league source, that nose tackle Vince Wilfork has been hit with the non-exclusive franchise tag.

The news that Wilfork was franchised was initially reported by the Providence Journal, and later announced by the Patriots.

However, the news that Wilfork has received the non-exclusive tag is important to remember. While Wilfork has made no secret of his desire to avoid the franchise tag ‘€” he called it a ‘€œslap in the face’€ in an interview with WEEI earlier this offseason ‘€” in simple terms, in Wilfork’€™s case, the non-exclusive tag is perhaps the least restrictive label the Pro Bowl nose tackle can receive.

Under the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, a player who has that designation can be hosted on free agent visits and signed to a possible offer sheet. If the players’€™ old team cannot match that sheet, that player could walk, and the team that gave up the player would get a pair two first-round draft choices.

While it is rare to see players who are hit with the non-exclusive franchise tag change teams ‘€” two first round-picks is an awfully high price to pay for any one player ‘€” the player has slightly more control of the situation that he did before.

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Wilfork franchised by Pats 02.22.10 at 1:04 pm ET
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WEEI.com has learned that the Patriots have assigned the non-exclusive franchise tag to nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

The news that Wilfork was franchised was first reported by the Providence Journal, and later verified by the Patriots via their Twitter page at 1:29 p.m.

Wilfork, who just finished the final season of a six-year contract he signed as a rookie, had expressed anger about the possibility of being franchised by the Patriots, saying that would be a ‘€œslap in the face.’€

‘€œI want a long-term deal, or I want to be free. Point blank. And that’€™s how I’€™m looking at it,’€ he told WEEI. ‘€œThat’€™s how my family is looking at it. It’€™s a short window of opportunity for me to go and make the type of money that I want to make. And hey, like I said, family comes first.

‘€œYeah, [the franchise tag is] decent money for most people out there. What I do, it’€™s OK,’€ he added. ‘€œBut I don’€™t look at myself as an OK player. Like I said, it’€™s just basically a slap in my face and it’€™s insulting to me to tell me I’€™m an OK player.’€

The Patriots released a statement on the decision, saying: ‘€œA long-term agreement with Vince Wilfork has been the team’€™s top contractual priority for some time. 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.’€

[UPDATE, 1:20 PM] While the Wilfork or his agent Kennard McGuire did not make a statement of their own, Wilfork’s wife Bianca did make a series of announcements via Twitter that read: ‘€œIn regards to the many calls and emails i am receiving in response to the franchise tag we figured this would be the easiest way to addr[ess] ‘€¦ The franchise tag has been applied. After six years of dedicated service i do understand this is a business ‘€¦ With that being said it is my hope that the tag is applied for its true purpose ‘€¦ For the purpose of alotting more time for us to continue our talks and be able to reach along term agreement. ‘€¦ Only time will tell what the final result will be.’€

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Pats will resurface Gillette Stadium field 02.22.10 at 12:08 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Monday morning that the field at Gillette Stadium is being resurfaced. Here’s a portion of the press release that was issued by the team:

FOXBOROUGH, MA (February 22, 2010) ‘€” The New England Patriots, the New England Revolution and FieldTurf have jointly announced that Gillette Stadium will be resurfaced with FieldTurf Duraspine PRO, the new standard in artificial turf and the latest turf innovation from FieldTurf.  The installation of FieldTurf’€™s Duraspine PRO system is scheduled to begin today. Gillette currently plays host to the Patriots and the Revolution in addition to a variety of other activities including high school and NCAA championships.

The new FieldTurf system will be in place when the Revolution play their 2010 home opener on April 10 against Toronto FC.  The first event on the new surface will be the New England Lacrosse Classic on April 3.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Moss expects 2010 will be his final year with Pats 02.20.10 at 9:08 pm ET
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Randy Moss told reporters on Saturday that he expects 2010 to be his final season in a Patriots uniform.

Speaking at a charity softball game in Florida for former teammate Heath Evans to reporters from the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe, Moss, who is entering the final year of a three-year contract, said he understands the financial realities of the situation if he doesn’t get a new deal from the Patriots. In addition, he added that if that would happen, he would bear no ill will against the organization.

‘€œI understand the beast, the nature of it. I think that just with what I think and what I know I don’€™t think they’€™re going to re-sign me back,’€ he said. ‘€œSo, after this season, if there is not a lockout, I’€™ll be looking for a new team. I got a lot of respect for the Patriots and what they did for me and my family. So, the only thing I can do is just play this year out and see what my future holds after that.’€

Moss, who turned 33 last month, caught 83 passes for 1,264 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.

‘€œIt’€™s the business of it, man,’€ Moss said. ‘€œYou got to understand the business of football. There is not bad blood. There is no animosity on my side or their side. I think it’€™s just the nature of the business of the NFL.

‘€œYou know the Patriots don’t really pay, so when I got my second contract from them that was a blessing in disguise. I understand the business. I don’€™t think they’€™re going to re-sign me back. I’€™m not mad. I’€™m not bitter. It’s just the way things are in this NFL, so like I said after this year I’€™ll be looking for a new team. I think so.’€

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