Vince Wilfork jersey still has some gas in the tank, and he’s heading down to Patriots South to finish his career.
The veteran nose tackle and career-long New Englander will play for the Houston Texans jerseys, the team announced on Monday. The Texans’ staff has his former teammate Mike Vrabel on the coaching payroll alongside head coach Bill O’Brien, a former Patriots offensive coordinator, and Romeo Crennel, a former Pats defensive coordinator.
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According to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, the deal is for two years and $9 million with $5 million guaranteed.
“This has been an interesting process for me and my family, one we have taken very seriously and given a lot of thought,” Wilfork wrote in a message posted on his official Twitter page Monday. “We want to thank the Kraft family and the entire Patriot organization for the last 11 years however we will be starting a new chapter in our lives as Houston Texans.”
He added: “The coaching staff in Houston has made this new exciting transition feel like home to us. We will forever be Patriots in our hearts, thank you everyone for everything.”
Of all the puzzles free agency has presented us with this offseason, Wilfork joining the Texans seems like a logical, clean fit. The team is in desperate need of a 3-4 nose tackle but, more importantly, they could stand to expand the group of influential veterans around 2014 No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney.
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Wilfork, 33, will be perfect in such a role.
“He is the best defensive linemen I ever coached, an all-time great Patriot whose place on our team will be missed but whose remarkable career as a Patriot will be remembered forever,” Bill Belichick jersey said in a statement released through the team.
Houston now boasts one of the more fearsome defensive lines in football. Wilfork’s run-stopping ability alongside party-crashers like Clowney and J.J. Watt jersey will go a long way toward supplementing the team’s offense.
J.J. Watt briefly considered life without football after undergoing surgery to replace five muscles in his lower abdomen last January.
Watt had already been battling through a groin injury for six or seven weeks when he tore the core muscles so severely that he had to exit the Houston Texans’ Wild Card Round matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“A few of (the abdominal muscles) were fully off the bone,” Watt revealed Wednesday. “A few of them were partial torn. That was pretty serious stuff.”
Following the surgery, just getting out of bed and walking down the hallway was almost unbearable.
“When I was in Philadelphia after the first surgery,” Watt explained, “there were some days there where I really, really questioned whether or not I would ever be able to play again.
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“There was a very low point there. It was tough. I was in a hotel room in Philadelphia for I think 10 days straight not being able to really walk or do anything. There was definitely a tough point there.”
“When I made those comments, I’m dealing with all these different things, the broken hand, the back, everything,” Watt continued. “At that point, you are kind of like ‘I don’t know if I can do this forever.’ Now that I’m all fixed up, I feel good and I’m healthy.
“I’m not going to ever stand here and say I know when I am going to be done playing. It’s year-by-year, it’s day-by-day. I feel great and I love the game. As long as I love the game and as long as I love coming out to practice and playing with my teammates, I’m going to continue to do it.”
After grinding through the grueling rehab in January and February, Watt described his July back surgery as “almost a fun challenge to overcome.”
As opposed to the abdominal procedure, Watt insists there was “never a doubt” he would bounce back from the herniated disc surgery to play early this season.
Now that he has passed his physical and is cleared to practice, Watt is ready to do “anything and everything” he’s asked to do in Sunday’s season opener versus the Chicago Bears.
“I feel great. I feel no limitations whatsoever,” Watt said. “My body actually feels better than it did for the second half of last season, obviously, with everything we were dealing with. I’m in a pretty good spot.”
Despite the lingering groin injury, a midseason herniated disc and a broken hand in December, Watt never missed a game last year while racking up a league-leading 17.5 sacks en route to his unparalleled third Defensive Player of the Year award.
At this point, his pain threshold and ability to produce at a high level while playing through injury should be as unquestioned as his status as the NFL’s dominant defensive force of the 21st century.
Now that Watt has regained his total freak strength again, Jay Cutler could be in for a long afternoon on Sunday.