Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson talks to the media after signing a new contract Thursday that keeps him with the Cardinals through the 2013 season.
The plane flight was set, the tickets secured. Adrian Wilson was going to be sitting in some ?great seats? at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Thursday night, taking in his beloved Lakers and Kobe Bryant in the NBA Finals.
But business ? and a legacy -- came first.
The Cardinals? Pro Bowl safety was thinking just football, after signing a new five-year contract with the team ? worth about $15.5 million in guaranteed money (with another 2011 roster bonus of $3 million) and potentially worth around $37 million -- that should mean he will play his entire career in Arizona.
For a player heading into his ninth season, the new deal was as much about reflection as it was the future.
?Every line sweep, every stroke of the pen when you sign your name, you think of the players that have been here and left, or the opportunities you left on the field, some of the bad games you have been in, Sun Devil Stadium, whatever you can name, I?ve thought about it,? Wilson said. ?It?s been a long time, and I think I?ve witnessed more than a lot of players have just from the standpoint of building a team.?
Wilson, the longest-tenured Cardinal, has been the foundation of what the franchise has built on the field. That, along with Wilson?s on-field talents, was the big reason the organization wanted to re-sign Wilson before he became a free agent after the 2009 season.
?The main point was we wanted to extend our relationship with a great football player,? general manager Rod Graves said. ?But the signing does indicate in many other ways that you want to reward players that do things the right way, that are committed to excellence and who represent your organization exceptionally well. Adrian has done that.?
Wilson, who turns 30 in October, should now be able to finish his career as a Card, something he has long wanted to do. Wilson?s wife and children were in attendance, as was best friend Karlos Dansby ? the linebacker also in need of an extension given potential free agency after the season.
Graves said other contract issues will obviously be up now that Wilson?s deal is done, but other than to say the team will address those issues at some point, Graves did not want to go into specifics.
?This is Adrian Wilson?s day,? Graves said, ?and we?re going to celebrate it.?
The new contract caps arguably Wilson?s greatest calendar year as a professional, after he was named to his second Pro Bowl in 2008 and also helped lead the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl appearance after years of futility.
Wilson talked about his quest to win a Super Bowl. He said he wants to become one of the few to reach the 20-sack/20-interception club (he is two interceptions and 1? sacks short) and even wants to join Rodney Harrison as the only 30/30 men.
Long finding it important to spend his entire career with one franchise, Wilson?s joy in the new deal was also steeped in such tradition. He bluntly discussed his hope to be in the Cardinals? Ring of Honor one day.
?Every time I step on the field at the stadium, I look up at the names on the Ring of Honor and I always say, ?One day, I want my number up there,? ? Wilson said. ?I want my number up there next to Aeneas (Williams). I want my number next to Pat (Tillman). It?s about making a legacy here.?
Added Graves, ?He bought into our program at a time when the road was less clear about the direction we were going (and) that says a lot about Adrian.?
Can Wilson?s news have an effect on teammates? Dansby, as a franchised player, cannot sign an extension after July 15. Dansby has made comments suggesting he would like a chance to reach the free-agent market and it seemed unlikely he will reach a new deal. But given Dansby?s relationship with Wilson, perhaps Dansby will reconsider his thought process.
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin is also seeking a new contract, although Boldin still has two seasons remaining on his current deal. Boldin, who is not attending OTAs, recently changed agents. He hired Matt Leinart?s representative, Tom Condon.
Wilson made a couple of jokes indicating it had been hard to wait for his own deal. But he acknowledged ?it?s not going to happen right when you want it. It?s a lot of money being thrown around.?
Given Wilson?s desire for a championship, he also said he hoped getting a deal done ?is something those guys can read into.?
?I?m not saying I will cure the problem,? Wilson said, ?but I want to help in any way I can.?
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 6/4/09. Updated 6/5/09.