TEMPE, Ariz. — When the Arizona Cardinals and safety Adrian Wilson parted ways two years ago, it appeared it would be only a matter of time before the pair reunited.
Their 12 years together meant too much to be forgotten.
The reunion came Monday when Wilson signed a one-day contract to officially retire as a Cardinal.
“Every single offensive coordinator in the NFL is left off the hook today because No. 24 will not be destroying any more game plans,” he said, tears in his eyes.
A third-round pick (64th overall) in 2001 out of North Carolina State, Wilson was a five-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro and helped lead the Cardinals to a victory in the 2008 NFC Championship Game and a spot in Super Bowl XLIII, the first in franchise history.
He’s one of only six players all-time in the 25/25 club finishing his career with 25.5 sacks and 27 interceptions.
The Cardinals plan to induct Wilson into the team’s Ring of Honor this coming season.
“Today is a great day, and we couldn’t be more excited,” team president Michael Bidwill said. “When you think about the 12 seasons he played as a Cardinal you couldn’t think of anybody that was more determined, more resilient, was more respected on the field, off the field. He brought that stadium alive in so many different ways on so many different plays and brought so much to the organization.”
While playing with the Cardinals, Wilson recorded 987 tackles (716 solo), 106 passes defensed, 15 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and four touchdowns in 181 regular season games, including 162 starts.
The 181 games played rank as the fifth-highest total in team history and are the second-most among defensive players behind only Hall of Fame defensive back Roger Wehrli (193). Wilson’s 27 interceptions are sixth in team history and his 25.5 sacks are 12th on the Cardinals all-time list.
His four NFC Defensive Player of the Week selections are the most in team history.
“I know it wasn’t easy over the years as an organization to continue and pound the rock to try and change the culture of the Cardinals. It took time and patient to develop a formula that worked, and I was more than willing to be a part of that,” said Wilson, who signed with but never played a regular season game with New England and Chicago in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
“My whole life all I ever wanted to do was matter, to be a part of a change, to be a part of a center-piece and to turn a team around. I poured my heart-and-soul into this organization and led with a quiet storm mentality.
“I want to thank the fans, I want to thank everybody that supported Adrian Wilson from day one, and I’ll always be here, as an Arizona Cardinal.”