Wilfork signed to record deal

The New England Patriots have paid big money to their big man in the middle by inking nose tackle Vince Wilfork to a five-year, $40 million extension today, according to a league source.

"We are pleased to say we will be here for many more years to come," Wilfork said on his Twitter account.

The deal includes an $18 million signing bonus and $25 million guaranteed, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The contract makes Wilfork the highest paid nose tackle in the NFL, provides him the long-term security he desires, and ensures the Patriots – hurt by the departures of several impact players in recent years – retain a key part of their defense.

Wilfork, who was assigned the franchise tag on Feb. 22, was called the team’s number one contractual priority by owner Robert Kraft.