After an 11-year tenure with the Patriots, two Super Bowl wins and an unmistakable, almost transcending imprint as the team’scornerstone defenders, defensive tackle Vince WIlfork announced that he and the Patriots had split ways.
Underlining the good relationship that the defensive tackle has with his former team, he explained this surprising break-up by saying that the Patriots had declined his 2015 and 2016 season option considering the 2015 salary cap. The decision had to be announced until Monday, however, with this early announcement, Wilfork is not only eligible for free agency but he can also get a head start on the market.
“I will take my time, think things through, take into consideration many things,[but] regardless remember I will always remain a New Englander, a Patriot forever.”
the tackle said during an interview.
The 33-year-old has plenty of options to consider, especially since, on the market, he’s by far the most accomplished defensive tackle. The 6-foot-2, 325-pound force of nature is a worthy addition to any team’s interior line hole. And while the sheer size may impress, there are other exceptional qualities to this one-of-a-kind athlete: he’s both agile and nimble.“There’s only one Vince Wilfork,” NFL network analyst Willie McGinest said, describing the defensive tackle as not only a great professional but also a dominating player on the field.
Arguably, Wilfork’s break-up with the Patriots was preceded by pay cut suggestions, yet the tackle’s complex contract, which includes incentive clauses and bonuses, surely didn’t allow for serious reworking.
The Patriots are struggling with a 2015 salary cap which they already exceed even with Wilfork’s departure. Either $2.8 million or $8.6 million above the set limit for this year, the team must immediately think of solutions which will make them compliant by Tuesday, 4 PM. One option is to decline Revis’ option for 2015m saving the team a massive $20 million, however they could then re-hire him and still remain within the threshold. And while Wilfork’s release wasn’t unavoidable if the team insisted on keeping Revis, such a transaction could help the Pats retain not only Revis but also McCourty.
Yet one issue does hover over the Patriots this season: after Wilfork’s sparks of out-of-this-world athleticism last season, the team has some freakishly large shoes to fill. And replacing such a key defensive tackle isn’t an easy task. While SealverSiliga and Chris Jones are an option as the team’s top defensive tackles, Dominique Easley might also be an option. And if all else fails, there are some free agency alternatives to consider: Jared Odrick, Dan Williams, Terrance Knighton and Henry Melton are just some of the names that the Pats might consider.