Patriots' NT Wilfork Happy To Be Back
Vince WIlfork
Vince WIlfork
PatriotsInsider.com
Posted Mar 9, 2010


FOXBORO -- The New England Patriots announced the signing of DT Vince Wilfork and OG Stephen Neal Tuesday. The announcement confirms reports that both players had agreed to terms. On Wednesday, Wilfork talked about the deal.

After announcing the signign of Tully Banta-Cain on Friday, the Patriots announced the official signings of defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, and offensive guard Stephen Neal on Tuesday. Terms of the agreements were not announced.

Wilfork reportedly agreed to a 5-year $40 million deal, with an $18 million signing bonus and $25 million guaranteed according to ESPN. The contract makes him the highest paid NT in the league.

New England had franchised Wilfork in February, much to the player's chagrin. He said that was frustrating, but he's happy now. Wilfork also appreciated the involvement of Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft.

"The money was good. The contract worked out for both sides," Wlfork told WEEI Wednesday morning. "Personally [Robert Kraft] reached out. He stuck to his word, and I appreciate that."

Wilfork said he appreciated how the Patriots do business.

"They were honest with me since day one," Wilfork said. "It worked out for both sides. At the end of the day we came together.

"At times it got frustrating, of course, but that's negotiations. We got it done at a pretty good pace, and I'm happy."

Wilfork also discussed Kraft's involvement in the process.

"When I had questions I called him (Kraft), and when they needed something they call. He always told me how much I meant to the team, and Bill [Belichick] said the same thing. From my personal standpoint, they handled business well. "

More from the team's press release on Wilfork:

Wilfork, 29, has played in 90 regular season games with 80 starts 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.

Neal signed a two-year deal to return to New England after initially indicating he might retire from the NFL after the Patriots' postseason exit. Reports first surfaced Friday that Neal, along with Wilfork and Tully Banta-Cain had agreed to terms.

More from the team's press release on Neal:

Neal, 6-2, 305 pounds, has been with New England since 2001. Since entering the starting lineup at right guard in 2004, Neal has been part of an offensive line that has helped the Patriots' offense finish in the top 10 in total offense five times: 2004 (7), 2005 (7), 2007 (1), 2008 (5) and 2009 (3). Neal started the final nine games of the 2008 season at right guard as part of an offensive line that was a part of the best rushing season for the Patriots in more than 20 years in terms of rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and average yards per carry. Neal contributed to a Patriots offense that set all-time NFL records with 589 points and 75 touchdowns in 2007. In 2004, Neal became a regular starter on an offensive line that paved the way for Corey Dillon to set the Patriots' single-season rushing record with 1,635 yards.

Banta-Cain signed his deal on Friday. The team announced it was a three-year deal, though financial terms were not disclosed. According to ESPN, Banta-Cain signed a 3-year deal worth $13.5 million, including a $6 million signing bonus. Incentives could push the deal into the $18 million range.

According to ESPN, Banta-cain was pleased with the new deal.

"I was just happy," Banta-Cain told the media after the deal was announced. "It was a long day, and it's been a long process to get it done. I'm just relieved really. Now I can just focus on the football part of it. The business part of it is pretty much done."

More on Banta-Cain's signing from the team's press release:

Banta-Cain, 6-2, 250 pounds, was originally drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round (239th overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft out of California. He played for the Patriots for four seasons from 2003-06, playing in 54 games with five starts over that period before being signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an unrestricted free agent on March 3, 2007. Banta-Cain played for the 49ers for two seasons (2007-08), playing in 28 games with 10 starts. After being released by San Francisco, he signed back with New England on Feb. 18, 2009.



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LB Tully Banta-Cain (profile)
OG Stephen Neal (profile)
DT Vince Wilfork (profile)
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