"How do you know when it's time to let go?" Wilfork asked Vrabel. "He said, 'Trust me, you'll know.' And right now, it's not time. I feel good.
"I said until I feel like I can't perform at a certain level or my body can't take it, or I'm mentally not there anymore, it'll be time for me to hang it up. But I think I have a couple more good years in me."
The Patriots cut Wilfork last year, indicating the end might be near. However, the 325-pound lineman started 16 games for Houston. He is coming off a down season for himself -- 22 tackles -- but remains one of the Texans' key cogs along the defensive line, especially against the run. With big question marks at defensive end opposite J.J. Watt, Houston needs another season or two from Wilfork to stabilize the front seven.
"I think, mentally, it'll go before my body will," Wilfork 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."
The NFL generally retires players before they're ready to walk away. Wilfork isn't there yet.