BOSTON (CBS) — While Patriots owner Robert Kraft sung the praises of Vince Wilfork while in Orlando, Fla., on Monday, the locker of the longtime Patriots nose tackle sat empty about 1,300 miles to the north.
The Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian reported that not only has Wilfork requested his release from the team, but he’s also cleared out his locker at Gillette Stadium — nameplate and all.
“An angry Wilfork ripped his nameplate off his locker stall, and cleaned out his locker. That’s how Big Vince felt about the proceedings,” Guregian wrote, regarding Wilfork’s reaction to being approached about restructuring his contract.
Two weeks ago, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport first reported Wilfork’s request to be released, though not much else has come out in the days that followed. According to that report, Wilfork adamantly turned down any discussion regarding restructuring.
Wilfork, 32, was due to cost the Patriots $11.6 million against the salary cap this season. After Wilfork missed most of last season with a torn Achilles, the Patriots are more than likely unwilling to dedicate such resources to him, given the question of a man of his size being able to return to form after suffering such a severe injury.
Kraft said Monday that football is a business, but he hopes that won’t ultimately break the bond formed between Wilfork and the Patriots.
“Going back over the last 20 years, if I was to think, we’ve had some pretty special people come through. And he’s one of my personal favorites,” Kraft said of Wilfork from the NFL owners’ meetings, according to Guregian. “I’m thinking of Tedy Bruschi, and Matt Light, and Kevin Faulk and Troy Brown. They made their careers with us, and I sure hope Vince will be with us next year.”
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