BOSTON (CBS) – If what’s been reported is believed to be true, that the Patriots are hamstrung by the Aaron Hernandez contract, then the team will have a tough time making an offseason splash in building their next roster.

That is of course unless current players on the roster are willing to restructure their current deals.

Enter Vince Wilfork.

The veteran nose tackle ruptured his Achilles tendon on the opening drive during a Week 4 win in Atlanta, and it’s not unreasonable to think a man of his size, stature and position may never again perform like the Vince Wilfork of old.

Wilfork has been a durable player up until this past season, averaging 15 games played per year in the last nine seasons. Wilfork is entering the final year of a five-year, $40 million contract, but his salary cap hit will be around $11.6 million.

Given the Patriots supposed need for salary cap relief, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe hypothesized Thursday night on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Adam Jones Show that the team will ask Vince Wilfork to retool his deal.

“The Patriots really need to free up some money because they are not in great cap shape. I don’t think you cut [Wilfork] – you could free up $8 million, but come on it’s Vince Wilfork. He’s entering the last year of his deal. In terms of a contract extension, hopefully you can sign him to a new deal, put a little more cash in his pocket and significantly decrease his salary cap number this year ($11.6 million), which is way too high for a guy who isn’t necessarily a three-down player, and is starting to decline a little bit coming off an injury. They went 12-4, mostly without him, and that’s the sobering reality. They plugged in some guys and still made it work. So you want to keep him around certainly, but you need to figure out something because that number is way too high.”

Jones referenced Lawyer Milloy, Deion Branch, Willie McGinest and Wes Welker as players previously thought to be untouchable, and asked Volin what makes Wilfork so different than the rest.

“He’s important to the defense. They got by without him, but it wasn’t great. It’s the difference between losing in the AFC Championship Game and winning the Super Bowl maybe. He’s still a frontline player, just not $11.6 million worth. If you can get him down to the $4 million range that’s much more palatable and you can go surround Tom Brady with some weapons. I absolutely imagine something like that coming down the chute for Wilfork.”

Listen below for the full discussion, and hear why Dan Connolly could be a cap casualty, as well as insight into Pepper Johnson and Dante Scarnecchia leaving the team:


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