NFL Free Agency is always filled with drama, intrigue, rumors, and speculation, and this season is no different. Big names have been flying around all week, being traded, released, signed, and wooed. One of the players being discussed this offseason is former Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, and his name has come up as a potential Houston Texan.
Last Thursday Wilfork announced via Twitter that New England had decided not to pick up his contract option for the 2015 season, making him an unrestricted free agent. In his statement, Vince expressed gratitude to the Patriots for loyalty and many great years there, but made it clear that he intends to continue to play football.
The 6’2″ 325 pound defensive tackle spent 11 years with New England, winning two Super Bowls and making five Pro-Bowl appearances. His size and deceptive athleticism made him a key run stopper and all around gap-filler for the Patriots, and these talents would be welcome on almost any team.
Several teams have reportedly offered Vince a contract, and it seems like a possibility that one of these teams is the Houston Texans.
"“The #Texans are making an effort to sign Vince Wilfork.” reported ESPN’s Tania Ganguli on Twitter, “Need a nose tackle, and he’s very familiar with Romeo Crennel.”"
Wilfork has a history, however limited, with several members of the Texans coaching staff. During his time in New England, the defensive lineman played under current Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, meaning there is certainly some familiarity there. Houston head coach Bill O’Brien was also a member of the Patriots organization as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator while Vince was there. While these may not be extremely intimate relationships, they may be enough to influence a decision by Wilfork to play with coaches he knows.
The Texans have a bit of a hole in the middle of their defense, having drafted nose tackle Louis Nix III last year before his season was ended by injuries. The replacement they signed last season, Ryan Pickett, is again a free agent, leaving questions for Houston’s defensive line.
Wilfork could be a huge asset to an already talented Texans defense. With reigning Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt at defensive end and first overall draft choice Jadeveon Clowney at the outside linebacker spot, the massive nose tackle could be just the right fit.
He’s getting old, however, and though he likely still has some good football left in the tank, the 33 year old is surely soon to slow down. He’s only one year removed from a season-ending achilles injury, and his 28 tackles in 2014 were his lowest since his rookie season.
For what the Texans are looking for, however, Wilfork may be perfect. With so much uncertainty still surrounding Louis Nix III, Houston could use a veteran player to come in and play right now while Nix learns. Vince Wilfork may be a perfect short-term option on the defensive line, and may even prove to be a crucial commodity.
If Houston can land him, look for Wilfork to solidify an already talented defense, and give opposing running backs another star to fear. Hopefully the Texans pursue him and hopefully he’s able to realize what a great match he and this organization could be.