This is absolutely shocking news, and it’s difficult to make sense of this. We’ve seen the Carolina Panthers release franchise icon Steve Smith instead of paying him his significant salary and the Dallas Cowboys cut ties with DeMarcus Ware instead of paying him, but this just seems unreal. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that New England Patriots franchise defensive tackle Vince Wilfork has asked the team for his release, and words can’t describe just how crazy of a development this is.
Wilfork is 32, coming off of an Achilles’ tear, and he is set to make a whopping $7.5 million next season. He’s still a good player, but he isn’t worth that kind of money and the prevailing belief has been that the Patriots would save some cap room by extending Wilfork to reduce his cap hit and make him a “Patriot for Life”.
My first thought is, “Why on earth would Wilfork want to be released by the only organization he’s played for?” Wilfork loves the Patriots, they love him, they are a Super Bowl contender, he’s making a lot of money, and he’s a leader on the team. But what if he is asking for a release because he is a man of principle and does not feel he is worth that kind of money? I’m not sure that’s the case, though.
It’s an interesting case, and it’s critical to wait for all details to emerge before making snap judgments all the way, especially ones that criticize Wilfork’s character or point at a rift with the organization. But at this point, it looks like Wilfork is asking for a release after he was asked to take too much of a paycut and has decided to leave and go elsewhere.