FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots put the franchise tag on Pro Bowl nose tackle Vince Wilfork on Monday, providing more time for negotiations toward a long-term contract.

Wilfork, a six-year veteran, said he hoped the team would use the tag for that purpose.

The Patriots placed a non-exclusive tag on Wilfork, according to That gives the Patriots the right to match any other team’s offer or let Wilfork go for two first-round draft picks. An exclusive tag would have tied Wilfork to the Patriots for the season.

As a non-exclusive franchise player, if a long-term deal is not reached, his 2011 salary with the Patriots would be $7 million, the average 2009 salary of the top five paid players at his position.

”A long-term agreement with Vince Wilfork has been the team’s top contractual priority for some time,” the Patriots said in a statement. ”Unfortunately, despite numerous conversations and proposals, the goal has not yet been realized. Vince is a tremendous player for our team and remains a significant part of our future plans.”

Last month, Wilfork said on WEEI radio in Boston that the franchise tag would be a ”slap in the face.”

But he struck a more accommodating tone on Monday in a posting to the Twitter account of his wife Bianca.

”After six years of dedicated service I do understand this is a business,” it said. ”With that being said it is my hope that the tag is applied for its true purpose. For the purpose of allotting more time for us to continue our talks and be able to reach a long term agreement.”


CHARGERS: San Diego released running back LaDainian Tomlinson, ending a brilliant nine-year run in which he became one of the NFL’s greatest running backs.

The move had been expected for some time. Tomlinson, who turned 30 last summer, was injured early in the 2009 season and finished with 730 yards on 223 carries for an average of 3.3 yards per carry, all career lows.

He was due a $2 million bonus in early March, which all but guaranteed he would be cut loose as his role diminished on a team that thrived with a pass-happy offense.

Tomlinson ranks eighth on the all-time rushing list with 12,490 yards. His 138 career rushing touchdowns rank second.


JAGUARS: Jacksonville re-signed tight end Ernest Wilford to a one-year contract worth the veteran minimum of $630,000. Wilford would have become an unrestricted free agent next week.


DOLPHINS: Cornerback Will Allen was released on bail after being arrested for drunk driving in Miami Beach.


GIANTS: Coach Tom Coughlin announced the hiring of Kevin Gilbride Jr. as offensive quality control coach to replace Sean Ryan, who was elevated to receivers coach last week. Gilbride is the son of offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.

The younger Gilbride spent the previous three seasons as the wide receivers coach at Temple.


CARDINALS: Arizona announced the hiring of Donnie Henderson as defensive backs coach.

Henderson has spent nine seasons as an NFL assistant with Jacksonville (2008), Detroit (2006), New York Jets (2004-05) and Baltimore (1999-2003).


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