The New England Patriots will not pick up the option of 11-year-veteran defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.
Wilfork, 33, who will lose the $4 million roster bonus he would have received March 10 and the $3 million base salary to go along with it, had nothing but praise for the organization and head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots when he tweeted the news on Thursday. He wrote:
I’m in a good place I have a great relationship with the Patriots organization. Please know how blessed my family and I have been to be able to play 11 years in New England for a amazing organization….The love you guys as fans have shown me have been my inspiration year in and year out … Your messages your stories your conversations and support always touch my heart. New England has been and always will be my home. I have played 11 years for the greatest head coach ever! I’ve played next to Men that I now have as brothers for a life time, a first class organization.
Had the Patriots picked up Wilfork’s option, it would have counted $8.9 million against the salary cap; by refusing to do so, the team gained $8.06 million in salary-cap space. It is possible the team could still reach an agreement with the big nose tackle.
Wilfork, who played in five Pro Bowls, suffered a torn Achilles tendon in 2013 but still played almost three-quarters of the team’s defensive snaps in 2014, primarily handling multiple blockers on running plays and collapsing the pocket on pass plays. He mentioned his return in his tweet, adding, “I came back from a season ending injury when most doubted me and then won the super bowl in my come back year … New England has been great to me and my family … “
Looking toward the future, he wrote, “Can I still play football? Hell yea! Do I still love football? Hell yea! do I still love football? Hell yea!”
Wilfork ‘s take on what the Patriots mean to him was evidenced after the Patriots’ Super Bowl win, when he said:
At the end of the day, this was the best, best win of my career just because of the stuff we’ve been through, the distractions people tried to throw at us, the loopholes we’ve been through, the losses we’ve been through, the way people doubted us all year. It’s so easy to sit back and say ‘F’ everybody. The only thing that matters is the New England Patriots, what’s in that locker room, the organization, and our true fans. We proved a lot of people wrong … We’re a big family. This team was one of the tightest teams I’ve played with, other than college. I think at this level, to have everybody feel the same way and have everybody geared toward the same thing, it’s harder than college. … We played our tails off for one another.
He concluded his Thursday tweet on a determinedly upbeat note, writing,
11 years with one great organization 11 years married to the love of my life 3 beautiful healthy kids … One major injury lots of gas still left in the tank … All I can say is Im blessed, Im thankful, Im grateful … I will take my time think things through take into consideration many things but mainly my family and see where life goes from there … But regardless remember I will always remain a New Englander a Patriot forever.