Wilfork: Long-term deal is goal

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Nose tackle Vince Wilfork reiterated his desire to remain with the New England Patriots, but he emphasized he would be upset if the team assigns him the franchise tag.

Wilfork has played out his initial six-year contract and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. His ability to fully experience the free-agent process, however, could be restricted if the Patriots put the franchise tag on him.

"I want a long-term deal," Wilfork said when asked about his situation following the team's 33-14 loss to the Ravens in the wild-card round of the AFC playoffs. "That's something me and my wife [Bianca], we want. We're going to try to get a long-term deal done, that's first and foremost."

Wilfork, who is the team's top free agent, said he could imagine himself playing for another team.

"This whole process I think was best for my family -- family first," Wilfork said of a year in which he didn't show up for voluntary minicamps in the spring as a statement of displeasure with his contract, but later showed for all mandatory activities.

Wilfork, who was recently named to his second Pro Bowl, missed the last three games of the season with an ankle injury before playing in Sunday's game against the Ravens. He also addressed his contract situation in a press conference in late December after the Pro Bowl announcement.

"I truly believe that if you do the right thing, it will work itself out," he said at the time. "I'm sticking by that. It will work itself out, sooner or later. It will come to a time where it has to work itself out. Whatever happens, happens. That's how I am going to take it. I've been taking it like that and I'm going to continue to take it the same way -- address it at the end of the year, after football, and go forward from there."

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.