Does Hampton’s deal affect Patriots?

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This morning, as first reported by KDKA in Pittsburgh, the Steelers and nose tackle Casey Hampton agreed to a three-year, $21 million deal with $11 million in guarantees.

And so where we thought we’d have four franchised nose tackles, we now have three — New England’s Vince Wilfork, San Francisco’s Aubrayo Franklin and Green Bay’s Ryan Pickett.

Hampton’s deal is, at $7 million a year, worth roughly what the franchise tag designated he’d get on a one-year deal projected over three years.

Does this change anything for the Patriots and Wilfork? Well, if the sides really are as far down the road to an agreement as owner Robert Kraft said they were yesterday, then it shouldn’t do anything to poison the negotiations now. But if there were to be a snag in the talks … Well, let’s just say that Hampton’s deal probably isn’t the point of reference Vince was looking for.

Now, Wilfork is young, and more athletic and versatile than Hampton, and would command far more attention on the open market, because of his ability to play in any type of defensive system.

Still, it would stand to reason that, if Hampton was the second-best free-agent-to-be nose tackle out there, then Wilfork would probably have been better off if the Steelers had just tagged him.


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