Vince Wilfork sought Mike Vrabel's counsel on when to leave football

Vince Wilfork, stretching out during the Texans' minicamp Tuesday, realizes he's getting closer to retirement but says he still has "a couple more good years in me." Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON -- These days when Vince Wilfork walks, sound effects follow.

"Stuff pops I didn’t even know are supposed to pop (and then) I think I break stuff," Wilfork said. "It comes along with the territory. Just grinding all the years."

Wilfork is 34 years old and is heading into his 13th season. Playing, or even practicing, takes a little more maintenance these days than it did early in his career. But for Wilfork, the end isn't near. He believes he has a couple good years.

"I was asking (Mike) Vrabel before," Wilfork said. "How do you know when it’s time to let go? He said, 'Trust me you’ll know.' Right now it’s not time. I feel good. When he told me that, I just started just realizing and thinking about, OK is there anything that I feel that I can’t do? And the answer was nope."

The Houston Texans signed Wilfork before the 2015 season after he spent 11 years with the New England Patriots. He and Vrabel, who is now the Texans' linebackers coach, were teammates there.

Vrabel played 14 NFL seasons before becoming a coach. There are days when he still looks like he might be able to play -- when he's running sprints with the players after practice, or putting himself right in the thick of drills during it. He was asked last year if he thought he could still play and said if he could he would, but he can't.

The advice meant a lot to Wilfork, who is reaching a point in his career where he has to think about the end.

He'll examine his ability to continue playing in a two-pronged way.

"Until I feel like I can’t perform at a certain level or my body can’t take it or I’m mentally not there anymore -- (then) it’ll be time for me to hang it up," Wilfork said. "But I think I have a couple more good years in me to continue to go."