Losing Vince Wilfork 'one of hardest things'

PHOENIX -- At the end of warm-ups before each New England Patriots game, defensive lineman Vince Wilfork would pass by owner Robert Kraft and kiss him on the cheek, which was a sign of the connection between them.

With Wilfork signing a two-year, $9 million contract with the Texans last week, Kraft reflected on that turn of events.

“That was one of the toughest things. It was harder than anything else [this offseason]," he said. "He’s someone we watched come in here; I developed a very strong personal tie to him. It’s the hardest part of this game, speaking as a fan and also someone who got to know he and Bianca and his kids. He wrote something beautiful; he’ll always be a Patriot and he’s keeping his home here.

"Once again, we have certain disciplines and unfortunately -- you know, the other thing sometimes the player is more valuable to one team than other team given how they’re constructed. Losing Vince is probably one of the hardest things that happened. Some emotional ties. He’s a pretty special guy.”

Wilfork was one of several notable departures, a group including cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, as well as running back Shane Vereen.
Kraft was asked his level of concern on the turnover of personnel.

"Well, there are good guys in the locker room as well. I have full faith in my head coach, and we’ve actually brought in some really good players," he said. "When you think about it, I believe 18 of our starters from last year are here. We were the fourth-highest scoring team, and we basically have that whole [offense] coming back, except for Shane [Vereen]. And we have the draft and a lot of things are going to happen now. I think the core of our group is still pretty good. We have a lot of young, up-and-coming players.

"We want to be good year in and year out. Our objective is to try and make the playoffs. If you make the playoffs, then you have a chance of anything else happening. We’ve gone to four [AFC] championship games in a row. In the last 19 years, we’ve gone to 10 championship games, we’ve been in seven Super Bowls. We’re going to try to keep it going."

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