Nose tackle Vince Wilfork and defensive end Richard Seymour enter the final year of their contracts, and the question has come up from time to time:
If the Patriots could only sign one of those players to an extension, who would it be?
The question was asked in a June 2 mailbag and this was my perspective:
I don't think the team could go wrong either way, but I understand why Wilfork is first on the to-do list -- he's on the sixth year of his rookie deal, both sides agree that he's outperformed the pact, and the situation will probably have to be addressed in some form to placate him either with a short-term incentive or with a long-term pact. Seymour, meanwhile, is already on his second contract and was handsomely compensated in 2006, and has little reason to hold out. Those talks don't need to have as much urgency at this point. If I was calling the shots for the Patriots, I'd start with Wilfork and see where the process took me, knowing it could always lead back to Seymour.
The Wilfork/Seymour dynamic came to mind today after reading Pete Prisco's Top 50 rankings of NFL players on CBSSports.com. Prisco ranks Wilfork as the 43rd best player in the NFL, with Seymour in the "just missed" category (along with WR Wes Welker and LB Jerod Mayo).
Both players are valuable to the Patriots.
Wilfork plays a hard-to-fill position at a high level -- nose tackle in the 3-4 defense -- anchoring the run defense on first and second down. Seymour is a three-down lineman who can hold the point and also push the pocket (team-high 8 sacks in 2008).
What do you think?