On Saturday, March 16 the New England Patriots announced the signing of free agent safety Adrian Wilson.
The move is one of the better ones the team has made in a busy off-season as it addresses a glaring need on defense and adds some “old school” toughness to the team’s secondary.
“I was brought up in that toughness type of aspect and the aspect of setting the tone for the defense, being that guy that would go out and do whatever he had to do to let the offense know what type of day it was going to be,” Wilson said. “That’s what I came up in when I first came into the league. I’ve tried to taper my game a little bit toward the rules and what it is now. Football is physical; football is a man’s sport. I just hope that I can convey that same message to the secondary that we have there in New England now. Just go out there and be Adrian and be who I am.”
Wilson, 33, is a veteran of 12 NFL seasons with the Arizona Cardinals (2001-12). The 6-foot-3, 230 pounder, originally entered the NFL as a third-round (64th pick overall) draft choice by the Cardinals out of North Carolina State in 2001. He was released by Arizona on March 8.
Wilson has played in 181 career games with 162 starts and compiled 716 tackles, 25.5 sacks and 27 interceptions in his 12 years with the Cardinals. He holds the NFL record for most sacks in a single season by a defensive back (8), is the Cardinals’ all-time leader in passes defensed (99) and forced fumbles (15), and his 99-yard interception return for a touchdown in 2006 is tied with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for the longest in team history.
Wilson has earned Pro Bowl honors five times (2006, 2008-11) and All-Pro honors in four times (2006, 2008-09, 2011). He is just the sixth player in NFL history to record 25 sacks and 25 interceptions.
The decorated safety spoke with local media Thursday during a conference call. Here’s some of the highlights from the Q&A:
Q: What did Bill Belichick say to you that sold you on New England to be the right spot for you?
A: “Whenever coach Belichick calls, you answer,” Wilson said. “That’s not a call that you send to voicemail. Obviously, being able to be competitive every year and being able to play not only for the playoffs and the division championship, but also to have a chance to go to the Super Bowl. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I’m going to come in and compete with everybody else and see what my role is on the team. I have no problems with that. Coach Belichick was very upfront and I have nothing but total respect for him and what the organization has done throughout the years. New England was definitely my first choice. I don’t know what all the reports were saying that I wanted to stay out West, but that wasn’t true. It wasn’t a hard sell, but at the same time, talking to coach Belichick and kind of getting an understanding of what he wanted from me, I just felt like it was the right fit.”
Q: Have you had any sort of connections with the guys who are already in the Patriots locker room?
A: “I have zero connections with anybody that’s on the roster,” Wilson said. “I have talked with a couple of guys in the locker room: Kyle Arrington, I believe Devin McCourty was also in the locker room rehabbing a little bit. I was really just trying to get my number from Kyle Arrington, really to be honest with you. As far as talking with the guys and having any type of background with any of the guys, I really don’t. I feel like that’s a good thing because you can start fresh and you can let the guys understand what type of player you are and what type of person that you are. Really at the end of the day, we’re all trying to get to the same goal and that’s to win a Super Bowl. That’s the only thing that I’m coming to do, to be quite honest with you.”
Q: Is Kyle Arrington willing to give up his number?
A: “I told him I know he just had a new baby,” Wilson said. “I know he signed a new contract but I offered him a year’s supply of Pampers. Hopefully he gets back to me.”
Q: Where are you at physically right now?
A: “I feel good,” Wilson said. “Physically I feel great. I take great care of my body, so that’s not an issue as far as where I’m at physically.”