“The coaching staff in Houston has made this new exciting transition feel like home to us,” Wilfork said. “We will forever be Patriots in our hearts. Thank you everyone for everything.”
Wilfork played all 16 regular season games for the Patriots in four of the past five seasons. He tore his Achilles tendon in the fourth game of the season in 2013. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in four consecutive seasons from 2009–12.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick later released a statement about Wilfork's departure, calling him "the best defensive linemen I ever coached" and "an all-time great Patriot." From the statement:
"Few players reached or will ever reach the special level of Vince Wilfork. He is a great champion and one of the classiest people I have ever been around—just a kind, genuine and giving person who was all about our team, football, winning and bringing joy to others. There may have never been anyone at his position with as much strength, toughness, intelligence, instinctiveness and athleticism."
Wilfork will be reunited in Houston with defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, who held the same position in New England from 2001–04. Former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel is the Texans' linebackers coach, and former New England offensive assistant Bill O'Brien is the team's head coach.
- Dan Gartland
GALLERY: NFL PLAYERS WHO'LL BE IN A NEW UNIFORM IN 2015