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Vince Wilfork Announces He's Signing With Texans, Thanks New England 'For Everything'

BOSTON (CBS) -- Vince Wilfork is now officially a former member of the New England Patriots.

The veteran defensive lineman announced via Twitter that he will sign with the Houston Texans.

"This has been an interesting process for me and my family, one we have taken seriously and given a lot of thought," Wilfork wrote. "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."

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Wilfork signed a two-year deal. The Houston Chronicle's John McClain added that the deal is worth $9 million, with $5 million guaranteed.

The news comes as a surprise, after Sports Radio 610 in Houston reported earlier on Monday that the Texans were no longer in play to sign Wilfork.

Wilfork, 33, was drafted by the Patriots with the 21st overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. He played 179 games — regular season and postseason combined for the Patriots between 2004 and 2014, only missing significant playing time in 2013.

In the regular season and postseason combined, Wilfork recorded 597 tackles and 19 sacks while forcing four fumbles and recovering 13 more. He also intercepted three passes, the most recent of which came late in the fourth quarter against the Raiders to seal a win in Week 3 this past season.

He was named to five Pro Bowls and made five All-Pro teams (four-time second team, one-time first team).

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick released a statement shortly after Monday's announcement:

"Few players reached or will ever reach the special level of Vince Wilfork. He is a great champion and one of the classiest people I have ever been around — just a kind, genuine and giving person who was all about our team, football, winning and bringing joy to others. There may have never been anyone at his position with as much strength, toughness, intelligence, instinctiveness and athleticism. 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."

Wilfork was able to hit all of his incentives last year, after which the Patriots elected to not pick up the option for 2015, thereby saving roughly $8 million in salary cap space and also making Wilfork a free agent.

Wilfork spent Sunday and Monday visiting the Texans, where former Patriots coaches Bill O'Brien and Romeo Crennel, along with former Wilfork teammate Mike Vrabel, are all on the coaching staff.

"The coaching staff in Houston has made this new exciting transition feel like home to us," Wilfork wrote. "We will forever be Patriots in our hearts. Thank you everyone for everything."

Though the 2015 schedule has yet to be released, the Patriots and Texans will meet this upcoming season in Houston.

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