Compromise means Wilfork can stay awhile

ORLANDO, Fla. -- It seems that it is becoming more and more rare for a player to start and finish his career with one team.

After a sensitive stretch of two weeks in which defensive tackle Vince Wilfork's Patriots future hung in the balance, the Patriots and Wilfork reached a three-year deal Thursday, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

And with that, it gives Wilfork a great chance to join Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown, Matt Light and Kevin Faulk as franchise stars who went wire-to-wire in New England.

As it often is, this was about compromise.

The Patriots needed some salary-cap relief from Wilfork, who was due to earn $7.5 million this season and count $11.6 million against the cap.

In turn, Wilfork likely had to sacrifice some money in the short term, although we will have to see the structure of the contract to know for sure, and understand exactly how much. It appears that whatever he gave up in the short term, he has a chance to earn back in future years, with even more upside.

Wilfork had reportedly asked for his release two weeks ago, and cleaned out his locker in the process. This wasn't easy at times.

But a lot changed since two weeks ago, and owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick dropped several hints about that at the NFL's annual meeting.

They just needed a little more time to push it over the goal line, which they officially did Thursday.