Vince Wilfork

Vince Wilfork Retires From NFL

Vince Wilfork is moving on from football. The longtime defensive lineman took to Twitter on Monday morning to announce his retirement. Vince Wilfork

All offseason long, Wilfork has wrestled with the decision.

“Mentally, I’m where I’ve been all this while, I’m 50-50,” Wilfork said in June, while maintaining that he could pick things up late in the summer if necessary. “Camp now is like ‘Camp Cupcake.’ You’re only in pads for 10 days,” he said. “I mean, it’s so different now, so anybody that thinks I’m missing because I want to miss training camp or preseason, man, that is baloney.” 

Wilfork, a 13-year veteran, spent his first 11 seasons in New England and the previous two in Houston. Last year, he completed his 12th straight year in which he started in all of his appearances. The 35-year-old took part in 15 of the Texans’ regular-season games in 2016 and picked up 21 tackles along the way.

Although he had only 16 career sacks, the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus show that he was among the game’s elite between 2006 and 2012. Once he’s eligible, Wilfork is a candidate to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Wilfork leaves the game with five Pro Bowls, one First-Team All-Pro selection, and a Super Bowl ring from the 2014 season. We here at PFR wish him the best in retirement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Kap, Wilfork, Titans, CBA

Speaking Thursday, commissioner Roger Goodell rejected the notion that NFL owners are blackballing free agent quarterback and political activist Colin Kaepernick, noting (via ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez) that teams “all want to get better. And if they see an opportunity to get better as a football team, they’re going to do it. They’re going to do whatever it takes to make their football team better. So, those are football decisions. They’re made all the time. I believe that if a football team feels that Colin Kaepernick, or any other player, is going to improve that team, they’re going to do it.” While one wouldn’t expect Goodell to publicly throw owners under the bus, Kaepernick is likely, at minimum, an NFL-caliber backup. Yet, after throwing 16 touchdowns against four interceptions and finishing second among QBs in rushing yards in 2016 (468, with a 6.8 YPC), the longtime 49er hasn’t garnered much interest this offseason.

Elsewhere around the sport…

  • As was the case a month ago, free agent nose tackle Vince Wilfork is unsure whether he’ll attempt to continue his career in 2017 or retire. “Mentally, I’m where I’ve been all this while, I’m 50-50,” Wilfork told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Friday. Wilfork added that he’s not going to rush into a decision, and he shot down the idea that his retirement talk is a ploy to avoid training camp and the preseason. “Camp now is like ‘Camp Cupcake.’ You’re only in pads for 10 days,” he said. “I mean, it’s so different now, so anybody that thinks I’m missing because I want to miss training camp or preseason, man, that is baloney.” Wilfork, a 13-year veteran who spent his first 11 seasons in New England and the previous two in Houston, is coming off the 12th straight campaign in which he started in all of his appearances. The 35-year-old took part in 15 of the Texans’ regular-season games in 2016 and picked up 21 tackles.
  • Bears wide receiver Kendall Wright swiped at his previous employer, the Titans, earlier this week, implying to Kevin Fishbain of Pro Football Weekly that they’ll rue letting him go. On why Tennessee reduced his playing time last season, including making him a Week 17 healthy scratch, Wright said: “That’s a question I can’t [answer]. Ask them. They’’ll feel it after this year.” The onetime 94-catch man (2013) hauled in a career-worst 29 receptions in 2016, but Wright believes he “probably was the best receiver on the Titans roster last year.” After, in Wright’s words, only “playing like 10 plays a game” last season, the sixth-year man is now part of a Chicago receiving corps that includes two other notable veteran newcomers in Victor Cruz and Markus Wheaton, 2016 breakout Cameron Meredith and injury-challenged 2015 first-rounder Kevin White.
  • Talks on a new collective bargaining agreement haven’t begun because the players have yet to give NFLPA boss DeMaurice Smith permission to negotiate with the league, reports Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). That’s not ideal for the league because it prevents it from hammering out new television and media deals, suggests Cole. The current CBA runs through 2020.

Vince Wilfork Unsure About Retirement

After the Patriots knocked Vince Wilfork‘s Texans out of the playoffs, the defensive tackle indicated that he was likely done with football. Four months later, Wilfork has yet to make his retirement official. That’s because the veteran is still on the fence about whether he wants to continue playing. Vince Wilfork

Right now I am not retired,” Wilfork told SiriusXM (on Twitter). “I’m not saying I’m retired. It’s something I want to make sure I’m 100% certain about.”

To date, Wilfork has put in 13 years in the NFL and he can probably leave the game without any regrets if this is in fact the end of the line. The 35-year-old has two Super Bowl rings thanks to his 11-year stint with the Patriots and he was one of the best interior defensive linemen in the game during his prime. Although he had only 16 career sacks, the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus show that he was among the game’s elite between 2006 and 2012. Once he’s eligible, it seems likely that Wilfork will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

With all of that said, it’s not clear what Wilfork can offer in 2017. Last year, he ranked 84th amongst PFF’s 127 qualified defensive tackles. It’s not clear if the Texans or Patriots would have a place for Wilfork, so continuing his career might mean joining up with a third squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC South Notes: Texans, QBs, Colts, Alie-Cox

While the quarterback dominoes could fall before the Texans‘ No. 25 selection window opens, GM Rick Smith does not feel obligated to take a quarterback in Round 1. Of course, it’s not like the veteran decision-maker would say his team has to have a quarterback by a certain point, it is notable Smith said he would be fine with Tom Savage as a Week 1 starter.

I think he’s proven that he can play at a high level in the offense,” Smith said, via Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com. “He’s been injured, so he hasn’t had an extended amount of time to do that, but I am comfortable with that.”

Smith confirmed Houston plans to add a third quarterback going into training camp but didn’t say said passer has to be added through the draft. Although, the 12th-year GM did call this maligned crop of quarterbacks a “good class.” Smith echoed what Bill O’Brien said earlier this offseason, noting the difficulties modern rookies face when taking the reins in Year 1.

It’s rare that you can get a guy that can come in and play at a high level at the position early,” Smith said, via Barshop. “But it’s certainly possible.”

The Texans brought in Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, the latter of whom O’Brien is quite fond of, for visits earlier this week. Both could well be off the board by the time the Texans pick, which could place the team — in the event it doesn’t trade up — with Savage as its Week 1 starter. Potential Day 2 prospect Brad Kaaya also visited this week. The Texans had mild interest in Jay Cutler, but O’Brien prefers Savage to him.

Here’s more from the AFC South.

  • Colts GM Chris Ballard is borrowing a page from “The Cubs Way,” a book about how Theo Epstein reshaped baseball in Chicago. One key similarity between the two decision-makers is their emphasis on young talent. “It takes time to build a team,” Ballard said (via ESPN.com’s Mike Wells). “… Do we have work in front of us? Yes, we do. But it takes time. And the biggest thing that I want to make sure that we’re emphasizing is that competition and they have to earn it. It doesn’t matter where you come from and how we build it or where, from first-round pick to undrafted free agent to street free agent, guy that was cut at the 53-[man roster], future signing.”
  • On a conference call with reporters, new Colts addition Mo Alie-Cox said that the Buccaneers, Chargers, and Seahawks were among the teams that also made offers (Twitter links via Stephen Holder of the Indy Star). The former VCU basketball player added that he picked the Colts in part because coach Chuck Pagano reminded him of (former VCU coach) Shaka Smart. Some teams thought Alie-Cox could play defensive end, but he’ll be a tight end with the Colts.
  • Texans GM Rick Smith said he has not talked to Vince Wilfork since last season, but his “expectation is that Vince is not playing anymore,” Barshop tweets. Wilfork retired after 13 seasons in the league after the Texans’ loss to the Patriots in January.
  • Both Harry Douglas and Da’Norris Searcy accepted paycuts from the Titans this week.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report.

Vince Wilfork Planning To Retire

After last night’s loss to the Patriots, Texans DT Vince Wilfork told reporters that he has probably played his last NFL game (Twitter link via Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston). Wilfork did, however, stress that he is going to take his time to consider the matter before making an official decision.

Vince Wilfork

Wilfork’s full statement, courtesy of Berman, is as follows:

“I’ll take my time and think about it, but I think I’ve played my last NFL football game. I’ll do my due diligence, sit back and see if I really want to retire. I don’t know how long that’ll take. It doesn’t change the fact that I enjoyed every bit of my career. I enjoyed 11 great years in New England. I enjoyed two great years in Texas. Unbelievable teammates, I couldn’t have any better teammates from both organizations. Two owners that anyone would love to play for.”

If it is, in fact, the end of the road for Wilfork, he should retire without many regrets. He captured two Super Bowl rings during his 11-year stint with the Patriots, who selected him in the first round of the 2004 draft, and during that time, he established himself as one of the most dominant interior defensive linemen in the game. Raw numbers will not tell much of his story–for instance, he amassed just 16 sacks over the course of his career–but that is due to the position he played, not how effective he was. Indeed, most anticipate that he will be headed to the Hall of Fame when he is eligible for enshrinement.

He was selected to five Pro Bowls and garnered one First Team All-Pro nod in 2012. After his last season in New England in 2014, he signed a two-year deal with the Texans. Perhaps inevitably, the 35-year-old’s performance regressed considerably this past season. He started in all 15 of his appearances and finished second among Texans defensive linemen in snaps (507), but Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked him just 99th among 123 qualified interior defenders.

As he will be eligible for free agency again this offseason, it is possible that Wilfork will suit up for a third team if he does not hang up the cleats.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vince Wilfork Mulling Retirement

Texans nose tackle Vince Wilfork is preparing for the team’s wild-card round game against the Raiders on Saturday, but he’s also contemplating his future in the NFL. The 13th-year man revealed Tuesday that he could retire after the season.

Vince Wilfork

“I’ve been thinking about it,” Wilfork said (via Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com). “I’m not saying I will do it, and I’m not saying that I won’t do it. But it’s definitely not off the table.”

The 35-year-old Wilfork just wrapped up a regular season in which he started in all 15 appearances and finished second among Texans defensive linemen in snaps (507). However, the 325-pounder’s overall performance didn’t draw rave reviews from Pro Football Focus, which ranked him 99th among 123 qualified interior defenders. Wilfork was a much more imposing presence as a member of the Patriots from 2004-14, earning five Pro Bowl nods and winning a pair of Super Bowls during that span.

Wilfork, who entered the league as a first-round pick from Miami, left New England in March 2015 to sign a two-year deal with the Texans. That contract will expire after the season, so Wilfork’s career might not continue in Houston even if he does return in 2017. In the meantime, he’ll spend the coming weeks trying to earn a third Super Bowl ring.

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Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Forte, Texans, Bills

The fact that the Jets have a pair of terrific receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker is one of the reasons running back Matt Forte chose to sign with the team over the winter, writes Zach Braziller of the New York Post. “If Brandon and Eric can be on the outside to help me out and if I can be really effective in the running game, it can help them out, too,” said Forte, who noted in 2013 – perhaps his best season – the Bears had two high-caliber wideouts (Marshall and Alshon Jeffery) whose respective presences aided the club’s running game.

Elsewhere around the AFC…

  • Thirteenth-year Texans defensive tackle Vince Wilfork believes he has a couple more good seasons in him, Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com tweets. Wilfork, 34, says his love of the game keeps him coming back each year, despite the sacrifices and hard work. Wilfork is entering the final season of a two-year, $9MM contract he inked in March 2015.
  • Bills running back Karlos Williams disappointed Rex Ryan when he showed up to minicamp overweight, with the head coach saying that the second-year man isn’t “anywhere close to where he needs to be to play at a high level” (via Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk). Williams attributes his weight gain to his then-pregnant fiancee’s eating habits. “It definitely is a first but I like to eat and then her being pregnant gave me an excuse to eat, so eating anything and everything,” he said. “She’d wake up, one or two o’clock, ‘I want a snack.’ Well I’m not going to sit here and watch you eat because I don’t want you to feel bad but it’s back to football.” With his fiancee having had the baby, Williams will now try to work back into shape and follow up his excellent rookie year (517 rushing yards on 93 attempts, nine total touchdowns in as many games) with another strong campaign.
  • One of Wilfork’s teammates, Texans left tackle Duane Brown, is progressing from offseason surgery to repair a torn quadriceps muscle and should be ready by Week 1 at the latest, reports John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Brown, who has started in all 120 of his appearances with the Texans, suffered the injury in Week 17 last season.
  • Earlier this evening, we checked in on the latest from the AFC West – including a Von Miller update.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Extra Points: Hardy, Robison, Knighton

Greg Hardy is frustrated that Aldon Smith received a sizable contract from the Raiders while he continues to sit on the shelf, sources tell Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link).

Hardy’s camp is still expecting to land an incentive-laden deal, but interest has not been strong up until this point. According to league sources who spoke with Cole, teams are more concerned about Hardy’s attitude in Dallas last season and stories of his partying than they are about his domestic-abuse allegations.

Here’s some more news from outside the draft realm.

  • Family members are pestering Vikings defensive end Brian Robison to find out about his NFL future and while he’s not certain of what will come next, he does have an idea of what he’d like to do. Robinson says his “ultimate hope” is to play out the remaining two years on his deal, as Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press writes. The veteran is due to earn a base salary of $3.75MM in 2016 and $5.25MM in 2017. Robison racked up at least eight sacks per season from 2011-13. After that, he recorded 4.5 sacks in 2014 and 5.0 sacks last season. For his efforts in 2015, the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus rated him as the 19th-best defensive end out of 48 qualified players.
  • Terrance Knighton consulted Vince Wilfork before signing his one-year deal with the Patriots, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. A Windsor, Conn., native, Knighton grew up a Patriots fan and followed Wilfork’s career closely. Despite being released last year after 11 seasons in New England, Wilfork expressed consistent praise for the Patriots in a long conversation with Knighton, Reiss reports.
  • The Pats have set Knighton up with a nutritionist and included weight clauses in the defensive tackle’s contract, Reiss reports. Washington listed Knighton at 354 pounds last season, and the eighth-year veteran wouldn’t disclose if that was accurate. Although Knighton told media (including Reiss) he weighs less than that now, he doesn’t have an issue with the Patriots‘ weight clauses. “It’s something I’ve paid a lot of attention to this offseason, and it won’t be a problem,” said Knighton, whose weight has likely played a part in failing to secure a long-term deal the past two offseasons. Last year, I was obviously heavier than I am right now. Contractually, I’ll have weights that I need to hit. Whatever the coaches want me to play at, that’s what I’ll be. [Weight concerns are] something that obviously has been an attack on me my whole career.”
  • Andy Mulumba‘s one-year deal with the Chiefs is worth $620K, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. The outside linebacker’s deal is only guaranteed for $10K, however. Mulumba also gets a $10K workout bonus to go along with his $600K base. The native of the Democratic Republic of Congo became a free agent when Green Bay declined to extend him the low-round tender.
  • In a recent mailbag, a reader asked Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune whether the Bears would give up their first-round pick for Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson. The Jets are willing to entertain trade offers from Wilkerson, but they’re not desperate enough to move him cheaply. Chicago, meanwhile, likely needs to build through the draft for a few years to put their plan in motion, and a Wilkerson deal would probably weaken its stockpile.
  • Before Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was claimed off waivers by Miami, the Saints, Bills, and Steelers all tried to claim him, a source tells Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Sam Robinson contributed to this report

Extra Points: Cruz, Dez, Mathis, Texans

The latest from around the NFL:

  • Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph will see his base salary drop from $8.75MM to $7MM as a part of his new extension, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle tweets. He’ll then earn base salaries of $6.5MM in 2016 and 2017. Joseph will also receive $500K in 46-man roster bonuses each year (link).
  • Titans tight end Dorin Dickerson suffered a ruptured Achilles this week, and will have season-ending surgery to repair the damage sometime in the near future, according to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean (Twitter link). Dickerson didn’t appear in a regular-season game in 2014, but has recently spent time with several teams, including the Texans, Patriots, Bills, and Lions.
  • Newcomer Vince Wilfork is excited to bring his leadership skills to the Texans, as John McClain of the Houston Chronicle writes. “I want to be a guy that’s played the game for a while that they can always turn to and ask questions about anything football-wise or off the field,” said the 33-year-old, who will be playing between J.J. Watt and Jared Crick. “I’ve played with a lot of guys. I’ve played with some Hall of Famers. I’ve been coached by some great guys.”
  • Lions wide receiver TJ Jones missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery. Now, he’s not just trying to get back to what he did at Notre Dame – he’s looking to top it, as ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein writes. Detroit selected Jones in the sixth round of the 2014 draft.
  • David Ausberry‘s one-year deal with the Lions is worth $660K with no guaranteed cash, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post (on Twitter). Ausberry signed with Detroit earlier this month.
  • Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter) wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears add a veteran offensive lineman in advance of training camp.
  • Tarvaris Jackson‘s one-year deal with the Seahawks will pay him a fully guaranteed $1.5MM, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports (on Twitter). The 31-year-old Jackson earned $1.25MM in 2014, which was right around the middle of the pack in terms of backup quarterbacks. Jackson attempted just one pass in 2014 (a completion), but he’s started 34 games during his nine-year career, so he would offer valuable experience in the event of a Russell Wilson injury.
  • Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) attributes the delay in Evan Mathis signing to the ongoing veteran minicamps rather than a weak market. Once minicamps are over and teams have fully assessed their offensive lines, Robinson expects the market for the guard to solidify.
  • Giants coach Tom Coughlin told reporters, including Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter), that he expects that wide receiver Victor Cruz won’t have to start training camp on the PUP list. Cruz is signed through 2018 and carries an $8.2MM cap number — the second-highest figure on the team behind Eli Manning. Cruz’s season ended in October when he tore his patella tendon.
  • Dez Bryant showing up for Cowboys minicamp reinforces why his threat to hold out shouldn’t be taken seriously, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) opines.
  • G.J. Kinne‘s transition from quarterback to wide receiver is going quite well, Eagles coach Chip Kelly told reporters, including the staff from the team’s website (on Twitter). Kelly says that he didn’t know how well Kinne caught the ball until he tried him out at wide receiver. From this point forward, Kelly says gaining familiarity with the position will be his toughest task.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

FA Notes: Moss, Copeland, Lloyd, Bishop

As we heard yesterday, Washington coach Jay Gruden wouldn’t hesitate in bringing back veteran wideout Santana Moss. The 35-year-old has played in Washington for the past ten seasons, and he finished last season with ten catches for 116 yards. If he returns, Moss can expect to continue to contribute at a reduced role, considering the presence of fellow receivers DeSean JacksonPierre Garcon, and Andre Roberts. Still, Gruden appreciates the veteran’s role on the field and in the locker room:

“You know what? I could always play with Santana,” Gruden told Mike Jones of the Washington Post. “Santana’s a great person. He’s great in the locker room for us. He knows all the positions. I know he’s going to be in great shape, and I would not hesitate one bit to call him.”

“We’ve talked about everybody. It’s just about when, how. We don’t want — we’ll wait until the draft to see what we have as far as numbers at every position and go from there. You know, that’s something that we know where Santana is, and he knows where we are, and something may work out down the road.”

Some more assorted notes from around the NFL…

  • As we previously heard, linebacker Brandon Copeland has received interest from multiple teams following his performance at the Veteran Combine. “My phone’s been ringing,” he told Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. “It’s been pretty good so far. I’m not going to say what teams, but four teams have offered me contracts so far. It was definitely successful for me to go to the veteran combine.” Among the teams showing interest in Copeland are the Lions, EaglesBengalsChiefsColtsGiants and Titans.
  • Meanwhile, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that the 49ers are not among the estimated 13 teams to have shown some level of interest in Copeland.
  • ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez says the 49ers haven’t had any conversations with wideout Brandon Lloyd. He notes that the team previously has little interest in bringing back linebacker Desmond Bishop, but he acknowledges that the mindset may have changed following the roster overhaul.
  • Some have drawn comparisons between the Texans signing of Ed Reed last offseason and their addition of free agent Vince Wilfork this year. Texans owner Bob McNair recognizes the difference, however. “I think the difference is when you have someone at a position where they have to be able to run, then age is more of a consideration,” McNair told ESPN.com’s Tania Ganguli. “We thought Ed was in good shape and was going to be able to come down and play and he was a big disappointment. At nose tackle, you don’t have to run that much. He’s got to be strong. So there’s some positions you can play for more years and you aren’t taking as much risk.