One thing I want to make sure we do here is create a community, where you guys can take shots at me, and I can fire back. And so I thought I'd start here, because I read some reaction to my post a few hours ago on defensive players' salaries.
My original point was that the market's changing for defensive players in the NFL, which I think is inarguable, and that'll have an impact on Vince Wilfork. While I'd personally take DeMarcus Ware over any other defensive player in the league, I believe Jared Allen is a comparable talent at a similar age at essentially the same position (I know Allen is a 4-3 DE, and Ware is a 3-4 OLB, but where they line up, how they're deployed, etc. is pretty much the same). So I think comparing the deal he got to what Ware got was fair, and the fact is that Ware got 18 percent more in the first three years.
I'd also say that while Dallas may have the reputation for overpaying their own, this negotiation was a tough one where both sides compromised on some fronts, and that just goes to show you that the way elite defensive players are paid really has changed. Trust me, the Cowboys wanted to get this thing done in January or February, and they L-O-V-E Ware, so it says something that it took this long to get here.
What I'm trying to emphasize is that the way you pay Wilfork today is pretty different from the way you'd have paid him in, say, January or February, and that was the risk in waiting (which can be mitigated by the franchise tag.) And one thing I'm certain of is that if Wilfork were to get free, the market would be hot for him. He's a 3-4 nose tackle, who has proven he can play on third down, and has untapped potential as a pass rusher, making up a pretty rare combination. He's not quite Albert Haynesworth in other teams' eyes, but he's not as far off as you might think.
So there's that, plus the fact that, if a new CBA doesn't get hammered out, there'll be a scarcity of defensive players on the market. Guys like Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans would've been free in prior circumstances, but won't this year unless a new CBA is struck, because players will need six years of service, rather than four, to be unrestricted. The stars are aligning here. I'll leave you with this -- which you might've seen on Twitter -- to further prove my point that defensive players are climbing the salary scale. Here are the first three years of new money on four big deals signed this year:
Giants QB Eli Manning: $51.25 Million
Chargers QB Philip Rivers: $50.75 Million
Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha: $45.30 Million
Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware: $45.00 Million