- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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INDIANAPOLIS -- New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio would not elaborate much on the status of contract talks with nose tackle Vince Wilfork on Friday, instead referring to previous statements made by the team and owner Robert Kraft, who on Wednesday said he thought the sides were close to a deal.
"I would say the communication has been good," Caserio told reporters at the NFL combine. "It's been ongoing."
Caserio said he didn't believe defensive lineman Casey Hampton's recent deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers would affect a potential Wilfork contract. Hampton reportedly agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract with $11 million in bonuses/guarantees, a deal that could shape the market for nose tackles who play in 3-4 defenses.
"I think we're just concerned about the Patriots, we're not necessarily concerned about what other clubs are doing, so I would say that process continues," Caserio said. "To put a timetable on it, that's not really for me to say, to say that this is the end."
The Patriots earlier this week placed the franchise tag on Wilfork, who stands to make $7 million next season if the sides don't work out a long-term deal. When the Patriots announced they were using the tag, they noted that they hoped to work out a contract extension with their Pro Bowl nose tackle.
Caserio also declined to provide specifics about whether the team was close to deals with any of its free agents, a list that includes linebacker Tully Banta-Cain, cornerback Leigh Bodden and running back Kevin Faulk.
"I think you have levels of communication with all your free agents," Caserio said. "You are at different stages. Obviously, all the agents are here, so I would say there is continuous communication amongst all parties, whether it's myself, whether it's [advisor] Floyd [Reese], and that communication is ongoing.
"Obviously once we get into free agency, it goes a little bit further. I think you're always talking, you're always having discussions, and you're just trying to find what you feel is best for your club. That's what we're going to do, just like we always do."
He also did not provide a timetable for when deals might be struck. The team's nine unrestricted free agents hit the open market on March 5.
"I would say the communication is consistent," Caserio said. "I wouldn't want to put any sort of timetable on where we are in terms of the discussions."
Caserio also noted that safety, outside linebacker/defensive end, defensive tackle and offensive tackles were deep positions in the upcoming draft.
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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