The veteran defensive tackle announced his retirement Monday:
Former Patriots teammate Julian Edelman wished Wilfork well in retirement after the announcement:
Wilfork spent the last two seasons with the Houston Texans after playing for the New England Patriots for 11 years. While with the Patriots, the 35-year-old became one of the best interior linemen in the league. He reached five Pro Bowls from 2007 to 2012 and was a first-team All-Pro in 2012.
Wilfork's performance began declining as he got deeper into his 30s, and a torn Achilles hastened that decline. An Achilles tear is difficult enough to recover from for a player in his prime, so the fact Wilfork continued his NFL career was impressive.
Speaking with the Houston Chronicle's John McClain in June 2016, Wilfork outlined what would push him to seriously weigh his future in the league.
"I think, mentally, it'll go before my body will," he said. "It's just the amount of stress over the years you've been in the game. To play this game, you have to be mentally there. If you're not mentally there, I don't care who you are. You won't make it."
In terms of production, Wilfork's tenure with the Texans wasn't a roaring success. He had 22 and 21 combined tackles in 2015 and 2016, respectively, both of which were lower than all but one of his years with the Patriots—his injury-ravaged 2013 campaign.
But Wilfork still leaves a legacy in Houston.
In addition to his role on the field, the veteran lineman has served as a mentor for D.J. Reader, a fifth-round pick in 2016.
"Vince definitely has helped me a lot," Reader said in December, per the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson. "Knowing my story, and I know his, we just stay focused on football and what we can control. He's been really good to me. I can ask him about anything from life to football."
The pressure will likely be on Reader to take over for Wilfork as the starting nose tackle in 2017. Should the 23-year-old become a key piece of Houston's defensive line, signing Wilfork in 2015 will have proved worth its weight in gold.
The return of a healthy J.J. Watt will be a boost to the entire Texans defense. Between that and the experience he gained learning from Wilfork, Reader could make a big jump in his second year.