The New England Patriots have a very big hole to fill on their 2015 roster after it emerged that the franchise have opted against bringing veteran Vince Wilfork back for next season.
The player himself broke the news with an emotional open letter posted to his social media account this morning, confirming that the Patriots had chosen not to pick up his option for the 2015 season.
The decision brings an abrupt end to Wilforks' incredibly successful 11 year spell with New England but the defensive tackle, in the extensive letter which can be read below, made clear he held no grudges against the franchise - as well as offering an update on his future in the game.
Wilfork leaves the franchise having won two Super Bowls, one in his rookie season and one just this February at the ripe old age of 33, and he made it clear in the open letter just how thankful he is of having the opportunity.
Time to move on
The veteran was a fans favorite during his time with the Patriots and they were quick to pay tribute to his career, Tweets flooding in on Thursday morning. A former Patriot joined them:
His exit this offseason though does not come as a complete surprise, with Wilfork set to earn a $4 million roster bonus had he been on the Pats roster past March 10. This, coupled with the DT's $3 million base 2015 salary, would have meant a significant $8.9 million hit against New England's salary cap. A large sum to pay for a man approaching his 34th birthday.
There are some, including Skip Bayless, who have speculated that Wilfork could still return to the Patriots in free agency on a lower salary. For now though, there will be several teams taking an interest in the player as an experienced option for next season.
Vince Wilfork leaves New England having made 158 appearances between 2004-2014, collecting five Pro-Bowl honors along the way. And let's not forget his return touchdown in 2011.
What do you think Patriots fans? Was it time to let him go after so long, or should his loyalty have been rewarded despite his cost? let us know in the comments section below...