BOSTON (CBS) — Veteran defensive tackle Vince Wilfork has requested his release from the Patriots, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Wilfork was due to cost the Patriots $11.6 million against the cap this season, and it was reported that the team had approached Wilfork about restructuring to bring that number down. Instead, Wilfork has reportedly chosen to test the open market.
According to Rapoport, the Patriots approached Wilfork just once about restructuring, but Wilfork wouldn’t entertain the thought.
The Patriots will save roughly $8 million of that cap hit by releasing him.
Wilfork, 32, was drafted in the first round (21st overall) by the Patriots back in 2004. He played in 138 of a possible 144 games from 2004-12 before a torn Achilles kept him off the field for 12 games last season.
The Patriots mostly employed undrafted rookies Joe Vellano and Chris Jones to pick up the playing time slack in Wilfork’s absence last season, later adding Isaac Sopoaga and Sealveer Siliga to the mix as well. Fellow defensive tackle Tommy Kelly also suffered a season-ending injury the week after Wilfork suffered his. The Patriots went 4-0 with Wilfork and 9-5 without him (playoffs included) in 2013.
Coincidence or otherwise, the Patriots dropped from the ninth-best rush defense (101.9 yards per game) in 2012 to the 30th-ranked rush defense in 2013 (134.1 yards per game). The team finished 17th in that category in 2011, 11th in 2010, 13th in 2009, 15th in 2008, and 10th in 2007.
Though injured for the majority of the 2013 season, Wilfork traveled with the team, something the Patriots don’t typically allow.
Wilfork has 469 tackles in his career, as well as 16 sacks, 12 fumble recoveries, two interceptions and a touchdown.
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