New England Patriots captain Vince Wilfork had asked for his release, ripped the nameplate off his locker, and cleaned out his stuff. But reports of the death of his career as a Patriot now appear greatly exaggerated. The nose guard agreed to restructure his contract yesterday.
Wilfork counted for $11.4 million toward the salary cap under his old deal, which paid him $8 million for 2014. Under the new deal, the five-time Pro Bowler can earn slightly more than the $8 million than due to him under the old contract. But the Patriots guarantee just $3 million. The deal contains two option years that could extend the value of the contract to $22.5 million.
“It’s been hard to remain quiet and let things take its course, but it has been the best thing to do,” Wilfork explained in a statement released on Twitter. “Negotiations are never easy, especially when you have a 10-year history with a team, and more importantly, relationships. For those who have supported me, I thank you. For those who have called me every name in the book, I thank you, too. My intentions have never changed. Ten years ago, my goal was to retire a Patriot, and as I sit here typing this I am closer to achieving my goal. I look forward to getting back to football and helping my team compete and have a chance at winning a Super Bowl.”
The ten-year veteran battled age and injuries this past season. A torn Achilles sent him to the injured reserve list, making the idea of the famously unsentimental Patriots taking an $11.4 million cap hit for Wilfork in 2014 highly dubious. Along with Tom Brady, Wilfork remains the last link to the team’s Super Bowl-winning run.