FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Veteran defensive tackle Vince Wilfork tweeted Thursday that the New England Patriots have informed him they will not pick up the option in his contract, thus making him a free agent when the new league year begins Tuesday.
Morning guys ... Please read below this will be my only statement pic.twitter.com/gClv03hqet— Vince Wilfork (@wilfork75) March 5, 2015
The news was expected, as Wilfork, 33, was due a $4 million roster bonus on March 10. Had the Patriots picked that up, Wilfork also would have earned a $3 million base salary and counted $8.9 million against the salary cap.
The Patriots create $8.06 million in salary-cap space with the move. Wilfork and the Patriots could still reach a new agreement to extend Wilfork's career in New England, where he's played since the club selected him in the first round of the 2004 draft.
"I'm in a good place," Wilfork wrote in his statement. "I have a great relationship with the Patriots organization. Please know how blessed my family and I have been to be able to play 11 years in New England for an amazing organization. "
"New England has been and always will be my home," he added later in the statement.
Wilfork returned from a torn Achilles tendon in 2014 and played 73.4 percent of the team's defensive snaps. His primary responsibility was to take on multiple blockers against the run and provide a powerful pocket-pushing presence up the middle on passing plays.
Wilfork lauded Patriots coach Bill Belichick on Twitter, calling him "the greatest head coach ever" and saying he plans to play in 2015.
"Can I still play football? Hell yea! Do I still love football? Hell yea!" he wrote, citing that he has suffered just "one major injury" in his career and has "lots of gas still left in the tank."
"I will take my time, think things through, take into consideration many things, but mainly my family and see where life goes from there. ... But regardless, remember, I will always remain a New Englander, a Patriot forever."
A five-time Pro Bowler, Wilfork has won two Super Bowls in his 11 seasons with the Patriots.