Vince Wilfork, the New England Patriots five-time All-Pro nose tackle, was so angry when the team asked him to lower his base salary of $7.5 million for 2014 that he ripped the nameplate bearing his name off of his locker in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Then, according to a report Monday in The Boston Herald, Wilfork then cleaned all of his personal possessions out of his locker, which is usually something players do only when they know they are leaving a team for good. But Wilfork remains under contract with the Patriots for the 2014 season.
Vince Wilfork reportedly asked for his release from the Patriots after the team approached him about reducing the $11.6 million salary cap number his contract carries, after a season in which the 325-pound, 32-year-old Pro Bowl pass rusher missed all but four games due to an Achilles tendon injury he suffered in a game last September against the Atlanta Falcons.
The upcoming season will be the final one on the Patriots for Vince Wilfork in any case, unless the team somehow extends his contract or signs him to a new one after the season ends.
The Patriots suffered a tidal wave of injuries in 2013, and though they still managed to put together a division-winning season and make their way to the AFC Championship game before losing to the Super Bowl-bound Denver Broncos, New England still needs to significantly improve several areas of the team.
To accomplish that, they need more room available under the NFL salary cap.
But Vince Wilfork does not want to be the one who makes a sacrifice to help the team meet its goals. By asking to be released and emptying his locker, Wilfork is making it clear that he has no intention of playing the 2014 campaign for the team that drafted him in the first round with the 24th pick overall in 2004.
Nonetheless, Patriots owner Robert Kraft remains hopeful that the team will reach a deal with its defensive captain.
“He’s one of my personal favorites,” Kraft said Monday. “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.”
But Kraft made clear that, like Wilfork himself, the Patriots were were not willing to bend too far in order to keep their star lineman.
“We have to put a team together of over 50 people,” the Patriots owner said. “We have a salary cap. In the end, it’s about both parties feeling it’s a good transaction and it’s a win-win. I think that’s what we’re both shooting for.”
Since joining the Patriots out of University of Miami in 2004, Vince Wilfork has helped the team reach three Super Bowls, winning one.