Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said Thursday he will not be back with New England next season, ending an 11-year stay in which he won two Super Bowls and established himself as the cornerstone of the Patriots’ defense.
In a statement on Twitter, Wilfork said the team told him it would not be picking up his option for 2015, making him eligible for free agency.
"I’m in a good place," Wilfork said. "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 6-foot-2, 325-pound gap-stuffer who was drafted in the first round out of Miami in 2004, Wilfork helped the Patriots win the Super Bowl as a rookie and returned to the NFL title game twice more in losing efforts before helping the franchise win its fourth championship last month.
But he was due to receive a $4 million roster bonus by Monday and would have gotten $14 million over the next two seasons if it had been picked up. The money saved will help the Patriots bring back cornerback Darrelle Revis.
The Patriots did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wilfork, 33, missed 14 games last year with a torn Achilles tendon. But he returned to play in every game this season, including three in the postseason, registering 28 tackles and his third career interception.
"Can I still play football? Hell yea! do I still love football? Hell yea! One thing for sure is I will always be a fixture in New England forever. … This will always be my home," he wrote on Twitter. "One major injury lots of gas still left in the tank."