This spring, after spending all 12 of his NFL seasons with the Cardinals, Adrian Wilson found himself forced into change. Despite taking pay cut before last season to remain with the team, Arizona released the five-time Pro Bowl safety March 8, 2013.
He became a Patriot one week later.
"It was a difficult situation, obviously, getting let go right after you restructure a deal," Wilson said on his Thursday conference call. To have a new coaching staff come in and do whatever it is they have to do, as far as letting veteran players go and things like that, it was a decision that they made.
"It was something that I’ve dealt with emotionally and I’ve put it behind me and I’m ready to move forward with the New England Patriots."
There was one thing on his mind when setting up free agent visits: A title.
"At the end of the day, that’s what every player wants," Wilson admitted.
It's a song many veterans sing. The 33-year old's tune resonates more than most, however, as he signed for a relative pittance -- three years for five million dollars.
He believes New England's winning reputation sweetens the pot.
"Whenever Coach [Bill] Belichick calls, you answer. That’s not a call that you send to voicemail," Wilson laughed. "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."
"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."
The Patriots obviously agree.
A veteran presence with proven talent is sorely needed in the team's defensive backfield. As for where exactly he'll fit in, Wilson said he's content to compete and let the chips fall where they may.
Early comparisons are being made to former strong safety Rodney Harrison, both in the punishing way he played and the manner in which he arrived in New England.
Wilson took the connection as a compliment. Still, it was obvious he wanted to distance himself from any expectations based on the past.
There's only time to focus on the future.
"Rodney is a great player. He’s been a great player in this league for a very long time. He came to New England and won a championship. I don’t compare myself to anybody. I really want to stay away from the whole Rodney Harrison comparison. He’s a great player. He’s done a lot in this league; he’s probably going to go into the Hall of Fame.
"I’m just trying to find out what my role is for the Patriots and just compete with all the rest of the guys and hopefully I’ll have a role on the team."