After news broke out that Vince Wilfork is asking for his release from the New England Patriots, many Texans fans wondered if there is a possibility that he may bring his talents to Houston. Wilfork has been a part of the “Patriot Way” for the past ten seasons, winning one championship in the process. Although the Patriots have had constant turnover in their defense, Wilfork has been the one sustaining presence in the middle of Bill Belichik’s defense. Wilfork is an absolute monster of a human being at 6’2 and 325 pounds (the Patriots scales are probably a little generous) and has been the model of excellence at the nose tackle position in the NFL over the past decade. Wilfork, who played under Romeo Crennel in his rookie season, would perfectly fit in with Crennel’s scheme that he is bringing to Houston. If Romeo Crennel had to create a prototypical nose tackle for his scheme, he would simply input Wilfork’s measureables, skills, and intelligence. The question is would Wilfork be willing to take a pay cut to join a team that is on the heels of a two win season?
As seen throughout the first stages of free agency, teams are more than willing to overpay for coveted players, handing out ridiculous contracts in the process. Wilfork is asking for his release from the Patriots because he does not want to take a pay cut from the $7.5 million he is due this season. If he is released, he will probably be asking for a top dollar contract. However, due to his season-ending injury this past season and his age, the market for Wilfork may not be too overwhelming. Let me stress that it may not be overwhelming. The Texans, who have not been real players so far in free agency, owe it to themselves to feel out Wilfork and see what his market value is. Rick Smith may be wary of signing an old and injured veteran due to this past season’s Ed Reed debacle. Although that signing was absolutely one of the worst signings of the Rick Smith era, Smith should not let that signing dissuade him from inquiring about the massive nose tackle. Wilfork would seamlessly fit in with Crennel’s 3-4 scheme and if he is healthy could be a dominating force on the Texans’ defensive line.
Despite these positives, Rick Smith should not get into a bidding war with other Wilfork suitors due to the nature of his injury. Achilles injuries are extremely difficult to come back from and often players who have had Achilles surgery are just a shell of what they formerly were (Demeco Ryans anyone?). In fact, one statistic shows that nearly 66 percent of players who suffer an Achilles injury do not come back or they return at a lesser level. Because of this, Wilfork’s demand for a top dollar contract may not be met. By signing with the Texans, both Wilfork and the team would be taking a big chance, but a chance that offers a high reward. Sure, the Texans could go the cheap route and sign someone like Isaac Sopoaga, who the Patriots just cut, or just address the position through the draft or sign an undrafted free agent. However, due to the importance of the nose tackle position in Crennel’s scheme, the Texans need to seriously consider investing some money into the position, because there is no one who is currently on the roster who can serviceably fill the position (sorry Jared Crick). If the Texans could convince Wilfork to a two year contract with a reasonable amount of guaranteed money, I would be happy that the Texans at least took a chance on a player who could pay huge dividends for next season’s defense. Wilfork and the Texans could be a match made in heaven, so Rick Smith and the front office should at least consider it and be the aggressors instead of passively sitting back and watching the rest of the teams in their division slowly improve through free agency.