Don’t Count Out a Vince Wilfork Return Just Yet

When Vince Wilfork shared a heartfelt note thanking the Patriots and their fans for 11 great years on Twitter last Tuesday, it felt like a goodbye. The Patriots had declined to pick up his 2015 contract option, but the 33-year-old nose tackle asserted that he had plenty left in the tank. At the time, the team had more pressing players to focus on, namely Devin McCourty and Darrelle Revis.

With the NFL’s free agency period underway, multiple reports suggest Wilfork could still end up in New England next season, albeit at a reduced salary. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport named the Patriots and the Texans as two of the four teams the 5-time Pro Bowl selection is considering.

Yahoo’s Charles Robinson reported that Wilfork was taking his time to make a decision about his future, but that a return to Foxborough remained possible.

In addition to the Patriots and Texans emerging as possible destinations, the Indianapolis Colts are reportedly interested in Wilfork. In 2014 regular and postseason defeats to the Patriots, the Colts’ run defense surrendered a combined 423 rushing yards. It would make sense that a team with such a porous defense would want a XXX-pound All-Pro on the field.

While a reunion with Wilfork seems possible, the Patriots might still see him as a backup plan of sorts. The Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels reported that the Patriots were interested in Nick Fairley, the “other” free agent defensive tackle from the Lions. The market for the 27-year-old Fairley and his raw talent (the 13th overall pick in the 2011 draft, he ran a 4.84 40 yard dash at 291 pounds). The Bengals had Fairley in for a visit on Wednesday, and the Rams are also reportedly in the mix at the moment.

Aside from Fairley, the Patriots are also reportedly “in” on ex-Browns nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin. Denver’s Terrance Knighton is also on the market, and figures to be the most lucrative defensive tackle not named Ndamukong Suh in this free agent class.

So with Darrelle Revis gone and over $9 million in cap room to play with, the Patriots are financially flexible and can look for value elsewhere. And their biggest free agent signing may still turn out to be a returning Vince Wilfork.

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