March 5th marked the start of free agency in an uncapped year, and there was a flurry of early activity. The biggest Patriots-related news story so far is the signing of nose tackle Vince Wilfork to a five-year deal. ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss reported that the terms of the deal are $40m over the 5 years, with $18m of that a signing bonus and $25m guaranteed. That apparently makes it the biggest contract ever given to a 3-4 nose tackle.
The Patriots also signed OG Stephen Neal to a two-year deal and DE/OLB Tully Banta-Cain, who finished the season with 10 sacks to a three-year deal.
In terms of players from other teams though, the Patriots missed out on their targets so far. They had an offer on the table for former Panthers DE Julius Peppers, but he made his way to the Chicago Bears. They were in trade talks with the Cardinals for WR Anquan Boldin, but he’s off to the Ravens who, like the Patriots, really need receivers. (It was a bad day for the Cardinals all around, it seems, as safety Antrel Rolle made his way to the Giants and linebacker Karlos Dansby is now a Dolphin.)
Hopefully the Patriots will manage to get some of the 2nd tier free agents in the coming days because there’s a lot of holes to be filled in New England and a lot of the big names are off the market already.