“We’re very happy staying put, staying in New England for five more years,” Wilfork said in an interview that you can find audio of here. “I never wanted to leave. My family, my kids, I think, are happier than I am. Not because of the long-term deal, just that we don’t have to move anywhere. I’m excited. We’re all excited. We definitely got done what we wanted to get done out of the deal.”
Wilfork was pretty frank during the 12-minute talk, and didn’t sugarcoat the situation. And so it was that he was fairly open about the bumps along the way.
“When I signed here as a rookie six years ago, going on my seventh year here now, first thing I said is I want to start and end my career here in New England,” Wilfork said. “That’s been the motive all this while. I mean, did I get frustrated at times? Of course.
“That’s business, that’s a negotiation. I’d never been through (this kind of) negotiation. Certain things were pissing us off, and we’re going back-and-forth, and I’m not the type of person that likes to go back-and-forth, so I was just like, ‘When’s it going to be over?'”
Eventually, Wilfork would get his answer.
Just not before being tagged.
Back in January, Wilfork said he’d take the franchise designation like “a slap in the face”. But when it came down, he’d come to a better understanding of how the Patriots were using it — to extend their exclusive-negotiating window, rather than keep him around for one more year.
His natural reaction? Of course he was upset. But …
“That only lasted a quick five minutes, and we got on the phone after that and they were like, ‘Look, we put the tag on because we needed some more time to come up with a long-term deal,'” Wilfork said. “When they put the tag on and let us know what it was on for, it was fine, because that showed me that they were very comfortable in negotiating towards a long-term deal and we were comfortable with it too.
“It wasn’t overnight, it was a process, it took while for us to reach a deal, but you know what? We finally reached one, and we can move on.”