Early Thursday, it was made known that New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork‘s option was not picked up by the team for the 2015 season. Wilfork, 33, was due a $4 million roster bonus on March 10. Had the Patriots decided to stick with him, Wilfork would have earned a $3 million base salary and counted $8.9 million against the salary cap this season. Parting ways with him frees up about $8.06 million in cap space for the Patriots.
In a statement made by Wilfork that he released via Twitter, he expressed his gratitude to the Patriots organization and expressed no bitterness in the team’s decision. “I’m in a good place,” Wilfork wrote in his statement. “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 an amazing organization. ” He added later in his statement, “New England has been and always will be my home.”
Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackleVince Wilfork
(75) against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Selected 21st overall by the Patriots out of Miami in the 2004 NFL Draft, Wilfork went on to have a successful eleven-year career with the team. In that span, Wilfork collected 516 combined tackles, 351 total tackles, 16 sacks, and three interceptions, with two of those coming in the 2011 season.
Apart from the 2013 season where he missed 12 games due to a torn right Achilles’ tendon, Wilfork has played in all but six games during the course of his NFL career. This past season, Wilfork bounced back from his foot injury and played all 16 games and contributed with two tackles in the Patriots’ 28-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. He has picked up two Super Bowl rings as a Patriot and was selected to five Pro Bowls.
So now the question is, “What does Vince Wilfork have left in him to offer to a team?” Would it be foolish of the New York Giants to take a look at him? It definitely would not be out of the question considering what New York is attempting to do to their defensive line in preparation for this season.
The Giants have just franchise tagged Jason Pierre-Paul for $14 million and news has been circulating about the team expressing interest in pursuing former Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in free agency this off-season.
The team has also been satisfied so far with the progress of defensive tackle and 2013 second-round selection Johnathan Hankins, who recorded seven sacks, 51 total tackles and 29 combined tackles in 2014 and started all 16 games.
Big Blue has so far made it known that they want to focus on and further develop their defensive line for this season and all this news is evidence of that. Now that Pierre-Paul and Hankins are the clear-cut starters at their positions, the Giants could look around for more players to fill the other two spots.
Some internal candidates at the moment are Damontre Moore, Markus Kuhn, Cullen Jenkins, Jay Bromley and Robert Ayers. However, if the Giants get fortunate this off-season with picking up some high-caliber players, such as Suh, they will be groomed and expected to fill those spots.
Nov 2, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (75) takes the field before their game against the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
If Wilfork does come to the Giants, he offers the experience and characteristics to be the guiding light of the young, defensive line he’ll be working with, much like in the same fashion as George Martin was during the Giants’ defensive brilliance in the mid 1980s.
Of course, though, the Patriots could look to pick up Wilfork again later on this off-season on a smaller deal if he hasn’t already been signed.
If anyone outside the Patriots organization were to have serious interest in acquiring Wilfork, it would be wise to take him on either a two-or-three-year deal or a one-year-with-an-option deal to get every last bit of football out of him and get the chance to work with him in a two or three year window.
Don’t expect a team like the Buccaneers or Titans to ask for his services, however. Wilfork would likely be a final addition to an already-talented team that’s looking to win now, like the Giants.
If we here at GMenHQ were to make a prediction of where Wilfork could possibly land, we would look no further than New England’s division rival, the Buffalo Bills.
Considering the moves head coach Rex Ryan has already made, they could be one of the top horses in the race to get a player like Wilfork on the same defensive line as Mario Williams. But that’s just us.
What do you think, Giants Nation? Please leave your comments below!
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