Former New England Patriots linebacker Teddy Bruschi said he doesn’t think defensive tackle Vince Wilfork will return to the Patriots as a free agent.
Vince Wilfork officially became a free agent earlier this week after more than a decade with the New England Patriots — the team that drafted him — when management declined to pick up the option in his contract. Wilfork wrote a heartfelt letter to fans, who quickly surmised that the defensive tackle could return to the Patriots with a new contract that’s more amenable to the team.
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Not so fast, says former Patriot Teddy Bruschi, who is speaking from experience when he says get in your goodbyes now, Patriots fans. Vince Wilfork will likely find a new home this offseason.
“It’s the evolution of a roster. You get to be turning 34. I was turning 36. There comes a time … you don’t have 20-year careers in the NFL,” Bruschi said per ESPN. “Vince is enough of a veteran to realize that. He probably saw that it was coming. The letter that he wrote was all class, to the fans of the New England Patriots. I think that, right there … was a farewell from him and his wife Bianca.”
Super Bowl XLIX offered Wilfork a unique opportunity to leave on top. While he’d surely have been happy to play under his contract another season, the team decided otherwise. If you’ve been paying attention to how the Patriots do business, the decision should have come as no surprise, least of all to Wilfork, who has seen countless veterans jettisoned out of town one year early rather than one year late.
Now Vince Wilfork will have an opportunity to prove his old team wrong and to help another team grow. There will be no shortage of suitors for his services, per Bruschi.
“I don’t see a team that can’t use a Vince Wilfork,” he said. “He’s not going to give you 10 to 12 sacks. He isn’t that explosive one-gap pass rusher, but in terms of a first- and second-down player that can take on blocks, if I’m a linebacker, I’m throwing a party if we sign him.”
Wilfork likely won’t command the type of money expected to be offered to Ndamukong Suh once NFL free agency opens on March 10, but he can expect to find plenty of interest and competitive offers from teams with gobs of cap space in need of veteran leadership and strong play in the middle of the line. Bruschi noted from personal experience how valuable that is for the rest of a defense
“Individually, I benefitted from having big No. 75 in front of me, and knowing what he could do against one blocker, against two blockers.”
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