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Vince Wilfork latest to show support for Tom Brady: ‘No matter what team I play for, Tommy boy, you always family’ 05.12.15 at 8:53 pm ET
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Vince Wilfork is the latest to show support for Tom Brady following his four-game suspension.

Even though Wilfork is now a member of the Houston Texans, he took to Facebook to show his support for the player he spent 11 seasons with in New England, winning two Super Bowls.

He wrote: 11 solid years, 4 Super Bowl appearances, 2 Super Bowl victories and ALOT of WINNING! Only thing I wish I could change is winning more SBs with THE BEST QB to ever play the game. No matter what team I play for, Tommy boy, you always family.

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11 solid years, 4 Super Bowl appearances, 2 Super Bowl victories and ALOT of WINNING! Only thing I wish I could change…

Posted by Vince Wilfork on Tuesday, May 12, 2015

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Now you can call him Dr. Vince Wilfork 05.04.15 at 10:49 am ET
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It was a busy weekend, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t note that former Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork (it still sounds strange writing that) was honored by the New England Institute of Technology at their 75th commencement ceremony Sunday. He was presented with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, and spoke to the graduates.

“We all have new chapters in our life that we’re going to have to attack,” said Wilfork. “I’m in Houston now, but you know what? I’m a Patriot and I’m always gonna be a Patriot, no matter how you slice it.”

Check out a picture below from Wilfork’s Twitter page for more from the event.

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Bill Belichick sees similarities between Malcom Brown, Vince Wilfork 05.01.15 at 1:38 am ET
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FOXBORO — While many people will make the natural connection of Malcom Brown being Vince Wilfork‘s replacement, that would simply be unfair to the 21-year-old Brown, who the Patriots selected with pick No. 32 overall Thursday night.

In fact, Brown is a much more versatile player than Wilfork was, as the 6-foot-2, 320-pounder can move around on the defensive line, and showed the ability to be more than just a run-stopper.

“I’€™m sure there’€™s both [similarities and differences],” said Belichick of Brown and Wilfork. “We’€™ll see.”

“We have a lot of 320-pound guys around here, so we’€™ll see,” he added. “Every guy is their own player, so we’€™ll see. [We’€™ll] work with him and see how it goes.”

Brown was the fourth defensive lineman taken overall in the draft, and was the first defensive lineman selected since Arik Armstead at No. 17 overall.

“Just sat there and watched a lot of names come off the board,” Bill Belichick said. “But felt good about our selection of Malcom at 32. We’ll see how it goes. He’s a guy that’s played inside on the nose all the way outside to the 5-technique and kind of everywhere in between.

“He’s been moved around a little bit. He played a little more outside this year in [Texas coach Charlie] Strong’s defense, a little more inside for the previous staff. But he had plenty of snaps in a variety of spots. We look forward to working with him.”

With the Patriots not picking up Wilfork’s option, and not much depth behind him, it created a rather large need, thus the Patriots using their first round pick on a defensive player for the fourth year in a row.

Playing only three years at Texas, declaring for the draft after his junior season, Brown finished his career with 165 tackles, 8 1/2 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He was a 2014 finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (top defensive player) and Outland Trophy (top interior lineman). He also earned first-team All-America and All Big-12 honors.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Malcom Brown, Vince Wilfork,
Resetting Patriots depth chart: Defensive line 04.28.15 at 1:57 pm ET
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Dominique Easley

Dominique Easley

With the majority of free agency completed and the draft looming, we’re going to take a look at the Patriots depth chart by position, and try and assess the level of need going forward. We’ve broken down each position on the offensive side of the ball. Now, it’s defense, and we start with the defensive line:

Current depth chart: (2014 regular-season stats via coaches film review and Pro Football Reference): Chandler Jones (43 tackles, 6 sacks, 10 quarterback hits, 2 passes defensed), Alan Branch (14 tackles, 2 quarterback hits, 1 pass defensed), Sealver Siliga (27 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 quarterback hits), Chris Jones (27 tackles, 3 sacks, 7 quarterback hits), Rob Ninkovich (56 tackles, 8 sacks, 16 quarterback hits, 1 INT, 2 passes defensed, 1 fumble recovery), Joe Vellano (6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 quarterback hit), Zach Moore (4 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery), Michael Buchanan (1 tackle), Dominique Easley (9 tackles, 1 sack, 3 quarterback hits). Jake Bequette remains on the practice squad, while the Patriots added DE/OLB Jabaal Sheard and defensive tackle Antonio Johnson in free agency.

Lost in free agency: Vince Wilfork (47 tackles, 1 quarterback hit, 1 INT, 2 passes defensed) signed with the Texans after the Patriots did not pick up his option. While he was able to bounce back following a season-ending Achilles injury in 2013 and go wire-to-wire in 2014, his off-field guidance as a pillar of the franchise could be a greater loss. DE/OLB Akeem Ayers (15 tackles, 4 sacks, 5 quarterback hits, 1 INT, 1 pass defensed) who was acquired midway through the year, ended up signing with the Rams.

Gained in free agency: Sheard. The 6-foot-3, 264-pounder has played in all 16 games in three of his four seasons in the league, and he recorded 44 tackles and two sacks last year. The 25-year-old has 23 career sacks. Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Johnson has posted 98 tackles and 4.5 sacks in six seasons in the league with the Titans and Colts.

Other changes: The Patriots re-signed versatile vet Branch to a new deal, and while he should be an important part of the rotation along the defensive line in 2015, the real guy to watch will be Easley, who was shelved for the season with a knee injury in December. The first-round pick in 2014 certainly showed himself to be a disruptive presence when he was able to play, but can be step in and be a big part of the New England defense in 2015? It’s unclear where he might line up along the defensive front — based on his size, skill set and what we saw from him in 2014, he’s strength is probably working as a 4-3 defensive tackle, with some time at end. But his progression and his health (specifically, his knees) will certainly be worth monitoring this spring and summer. (It’s also worth mentioning that Buchanan is coming back after a season-ending injury derailed his 2014 campaign, and figures to be a part of the conversation at the backup defensive end spot.)

Is this an area of need going into the draft? It is, at least from this perspective. While the Patriots do have a talented defensive front, there’s still the need for a sizable, run-stuffing type in the middle who can at least try and replicate what Wilfork was able to bring from an on-field perspective. (Maybe the 6-foot-3, 328-pound Johnson will get that chance?) Whether the Patriots try and go after a big body in the draft or for one of the remaining veteran free agents left on the market, it’s something New England figures to address between now and the start of camp.

Read More: Akeem Ayers, Alan Branch, chandler jones, Chris Jones
Vince Wilfork to give commencement address at New England Institute of Technology 04.06.15 at 1:52 pm ET
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Vince Wilfork is staying true to continuing to be part of the New England community.

The former Patriots defensive lineman will give the commencement address at the New England Institute of Technology on May 3, according to a press release from the school. The school, located in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, notes it’s special because of Wilfork wearing No. 75 on the field, while the school is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

Wilfork will also receive an honorary doctor of humane letters for his accomplishments and his work to improve the lives of others.

The 11-year veteran signed with the Texans this past offseason, leaving the Patriots after 11 seasons and winning two Super Bowls.

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Goodbye to Vince Wilfork ‘one of toughest things’ Robert Kraft had to do as owner 03.23.15 at 9:55 pm ET
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Robert Kraft and Vince Wilfork were together for 11 seasons. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Robert Kraft and Vince Wilfork were together for 11 seasons. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Seeing Vince Wilfork depart was “one of the toughest things” Robert Kraft had to endure as the owner of the Patriots, he said Monday.

“It was even harder than anything else,” Kraft told reporters at the league meetings in Arizona. “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 him and Bianca and his kids.”

The veteran defensive tackle, who had spent 11 seasons with the Patriots, announced on March 5 that the team was not going to pick up his option, and that he would become a free agent. And on March 16, while bidding a fond farewell to New England, he announced he was signing with the Texans.

Kraft said Wilfork’s goodbye to the Patriots was “something beautiful.”

“He’ll always be a Patriot and he’s keeping his home here. 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. (There are) some emotional ties. He’s a pretty special guy.”

Read More: Robert Kraft, Vince Wilfork,
Who are Bill Belichick’s favorite trade partners? 03.19.15 at 4:13 pm ET
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Based on their relationship and history between the two franchises, Chip Kelly could emerge as a go-to trade partner for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. (Evan Habeeb/Getty Images)

Based on their relationship and history between the two franchises, Chip Kelly could emerge as a go-to trade partner for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. (Evan Habeeb/Getty Images)

If you’re of the mind that the Patriots need to make some deals in hopes of shoring up the secondary of defensive line in the wake of the personnel losses of Darrelle Revis or Vince Wilfork, you should be checking out the rosters in Houston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.

History tells us that when it comes to dealing, Bill Belichick has a relatively small circle of teams — and more specifically, individuals — he prefers to deal with more than others. Since he took control of the Patriots in 2000, by our count, Belichick has made 102 trades. In all, he’s made the most deals with Oakland (9), followed by Denver, Chicago, Tampa Bay and Green Bay (all 6). That’s followed by Houston, New Orleans, Baltimore and Philly (5).

The Raiders have been Belichick’s most frequent trade partner, and deals with Oakland have arguably produced the most blockbusters, including the trades of Richard Seymour and Randy Moss. However, it’s worth noting that since the death of Al Davis in October 2011, the Patriots have not made a single deal with Oakland. (The last trade between New England and Oakland came when the two teams swapped picks on draft weekend in April of that year.) That’s not to rule out any sort of future trades between the two teams — only to suggest that the Raiders might not necessarily be the first team Belichick targets when he picks up the phone to talk about a deal this time around.

As for the best of the rest, it’s also unlikely that the Patriots and Broncos look to make a deal anytime soon, given the nature of their rivalry, as well as the fact that old friends Mike Shanahan or Josh McDaniels are no longer with Denver. Tampa Bay and Green Bay remain intriguing trade partners, as the Packers and GM Ted Thompson have shown a willingness to work with Belichick in the past on more than a few occasions over the last decade, with the last trade between the two teams coming last summer when New England acquired defensive tackle Jerel Worthy for a draft pick. And while the Patriots and Bears made a couple of notable deals a little over a decade ago (New England acquired Ted Washington in 2003 and a swap of draft picks that same year netted the Patriots Ty Warren), the two teams haven’t made a deal since 2007.

(Two teams we do know who are likely off Belichick’s trade radar: the Colts and Jets. While New York received compensation for losing Belichick to the Patriots in 2000, since he arrived in New England, Belichick has not made a personnel swap with either Indy or the Jets.)

That brings us to the Texans, Ravens, Eagles and Bucs. All four of these franchises have shown a willingness to work with the Patriots in the past, and given the deep relationship Belichick has with most of the decision-makers in each one of the four teams, it makes it a possibility that they could put together another deal in the not-too-distant future.

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Read More: Al Davis, Bill Belichick, Bill Belichick New England Patriots, Bill O'Brien
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