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Kraft hopeful about Wilfork

By Monique Walker and Albert R. Breer
Globe Staff / February 25, 2010

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INDIANAPOLIS - A ray of optimism appeared yesterday with respect to the contract negotiations between the Patriots and nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

On Monday, the Patriots placed the franchise tag on Wilfork, but owner Robert Kraft said yesterday the decision was about positioning and he believes the sides are near a longer deal.

“In business, you’ve got to prioritize,’’ Kraft said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “We’ve got a budget. We want to develop and create a team that puts us in the best position to win.

“Vince was a priority, and we’ve worked very hard, and I think both sides have worked hard, and I think we’re close, and I hope we close something.

“In the end, he was our priority - our first priority. We’ve got a number of other deals we’ve got to do, so we’re going about building our team, and I hope in this process we get to close this out.

“I know he’s a very important part of our team, and I think we’ve made an offer that hopefully can get it done.’’

Wilfork’s contract was one of a few issues that Kraft discussed, including Randy Moss’s recent comments and Tom Brady’s contract.

Last week, Moss said he expected 2010 to be his last season in New England. While Moss expressed gratitude for the three-year, $27 million contract he signed in 2008, he said he doesn’t expect to re-sign because the “Patriots don’t really pay.’’

Kraft pointed to Moss’s deal as a prime example that the Patriots are willing to pay.

“In any of the family businesses we’re in, we don’t go out and just try to spend money and always be the highest spender,’’ Kraft said. “We want to win in everything we do.

“If you look collectively at an aggregate basis, we spend to be competitive, but also anyone in your readership that has run a business knows that just spending wildly doesn’t mean you’re doing the right thing. You want to spend wisely and you want to spend with the right people.

“This isn’t modest to say, but I’ll say it again: If you look over the last 10 years, there’s no team that won more football games than the New England Patriots, so I guess we’re doing OK.

“I didn’t interpret what [Moss] said as ‘anti-Patriot.’ He’s a smart businessman, too. He’s getting himself positioned.’’

When it comes to Brady, Kraft said there will be a time to address the quarterback’s contract situation. Brady’s current deal ends after next season.

“We’re so lucky to have Tom Brady,’’ Kraft said. “His situation will be dealt with at the appropriate time. There’s no one in our organization that isn’t a huge Tom Brady fan, and I know Tom Brady is a pretty big New England Patriot organization fan.

“There will be an appropriate time that we’ll deal with that, but we’re trying to deal with some other priorities now to build the team so we can win.’’

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.

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