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The New England Patriots’ decision to use a $14.65 million franchise tag on quarterback Matt Cassel has left nose guard Vince Wilfork wondering about his future, according to the Boston Globe. Scheduled to be a free agent in 2010 along with a whopping 21 other Patriots, including several starters, Wilfork is entering the final year of his six-year rookie contract and hasn’t heard from team officials. “The ball is not in my court right now,” Wilfork said. “Nothing has happened. No progress has been made. I thought maybe there would be some sort of move forward, but everything is at a standstill. “I’m sure they’ll do whatever they have to do. I have that last year, and I’m preparing to play and play well. It’s not going to change me. But they know the longer it takes the more it costs.” Wilfork’s contract averages just $1.5 million per year, well below the excess of $5 million that fellow standout nose guards Casey Hampton and Kris Jenkins made last year. He’s scheduled to earn an $800,000 base salary in 2009. Complicating the Patriots’ salary cap situation is the fact that they’re devoting $29.27 million in salary-cap room toward Cassel and Tom Brady. Plus, per the Globe, the Patriots have $10.5 million in cap space devoted to wide receiver Randy Moss, $9.79 million to defensive end Richard Seymour, linebacker Adalius Thomas’ $6.4 million and the quarterbacks’ cap impact and it’s roughly $56 million or nearly half the salary cap spent on five players. And the Patriots’ 2010 free agent class will be extremely hard to retain. It’s a distinguished group that includes, in addition to Wilfork, offensive guards Logan Mankins and Stephen Neal, Seymour and Jarvis Green, tight ends Benjamin Watson and David Thomas, linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel, running back Kevin Faulk, placekicker Stephen Gostkowski, and cornerback Ellis Hobbs. Obviously, the Patriots’ contract negotiators have a lot of work to do. And trading Cassel at some point would definitely help alleviate the situation. It’s worth noting that teams that draft extremely well like the Patriots wind up in this situation from time to time, but this is a daunting task. Of course, Wilfork still wants what he wants: to get paid. “I hope whatever they have going on gets cleared up sooner rather than later,” Wilfork said. “I’m looking forward to a new deal, and I’m looking forward to the 2009 season. We have unfinished business as a team, and myself, I have unfinished business as an individual. “But you know me, I’m going to play hard regardless of the situation. One thing they don’t have to worry about is me preparing hard, working hard and playing my tail off, with or without a contract.” Wilfork said he doesn’t begrudge Cassel his huge payday. “I’m happy for Cass,” he said. “He proved a lot of critics wrong.”