Release of Adrian Wilson shows Cardinals entering new territory

Mar 8, 2013, 5:52 PM | Updated: 6:03 pm
Follow @theAdamGreen...

This is new territory for the Arizona Cardinals.

Rarely have they had a player as great as Adrian Wilson, and rarely have they had a player as great as Adrian Wilson stick around for more than a decade.

But that’s what the safety did, and his 12-year run with the team officially came to an end Friday when the Cardinals announced his release.

It was no doubt a difficult decision, but it’s one that many teams have made many times before. Just not the Cardinals, and that’s what makes this so tough to swallow.

But it was time.

A five-time Pro Bowler, Wilson is clearly on the downside of his career. He racked up just 54 tackles in 2012 after seeing his role reduced, and it was time for the team to go in a different direction.

“All of us thank Adrian for what he has meant not only to our organization but also to this community,” said Cardinals President Michael Bidwill in a press release. “In every franchise, there is a select group of players whose contributions earn them iconic status and for us, Adrian Wilson will always be one of those players.”

The Cardinals never would have reached relevancy had it not been for Wilson. The Cardinals never would have won back-to-back NFC West titles had it not been for Wilson. The Cardinals never would have reached Super Bowl XLIII if not for Wilson.

But the NFL is a business, and a harsh one at that. There’s little room for sentimentality if the goal is to win, and Bidwill has made it quite clear what his priority is.

So, if that means parting with a fan favorite and franchise stalwart, so be it. This is the NFL, folks, and that’s what happens.

“Decisions like this are never easy but it’s especially tough with someone like Adrian because he’s been such a special player and important part of this organization for the last 12 years,” Cardinals GM Steve Keim said in the same press release.

Wilson’s intensity was unmatched, his toughness feared and his loyalty unprecedented. He was a Cardinal through and through, and when he hangs up his cleats for good there will no doubt be a place for him in the team’s Ring of Honor.

Because there are not enough ways to honor someone who was a five-time team captain and is one of just six players in league history with at least 25 sacks and 25 interceptions.

But that’s still a few years down the road.

No doubt Wilson believes he can still play at a high level, and it would not be at all surprising to see him put together a couple more quality seasons. Putting on another team’s uniform will be strange for Wilson, just as it will be weird to see him wearing any color other than Cardinal Red.

But that’s life in the NFL, and it’s something Cardinals fans should hope they have to start getting used to.

Adam Green

Arizona Diamondbacks starter Zack Greinke adjusts his cap between pitches against the Colorado Rock...
Adam Green

Concerned about Zack Greinke? Yes, I am

It's early, yes, but Zack Greinke's struggles this season are unexpected and concerning.
7 years ago
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones, who was acquired in a trade with the New England Patri...
Adam Green

Chandler Jones is the most exciting addition in Arizona Cardinals history

The Cardinals added Chandler Jones not to make them good, but to get them to the Super Bowl.
7 years ago
Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers Zack Greinke and Patrick Corbin (46) prepare to hit during a spring t...
Adam Green

Money, expectations change the game for Diamondbacks

If the Diamondbacks are concerned about big heads due to being "offseason winners," they need look no further than to a division rival as a cautionary tale.
7 years ago
Phoenix Suns' P.J. Tucker (17) and Devin Booker (1) react to a foul call during the second half of ...
Adam Green

Who knew the Suns bottoming out could feel so terrible?

While the Phoenix Suns being bad may actually be a very good thing, the way they have hit the bottom is difficult to stomach.
7 years ago
Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians watches during the second half of an NFL football game ag...
Adam Green

Trust leads to Arians’ aggressive approach with Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals had just coughed up a 14-point fourth quarter lead and had the ball at their own 16 with just 58 seconds left in a tied game.
7 years ago
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, left, greets Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palm...
Adam Green

Cardinals show road to NFC West title goes through Glendale

Prior to the game there was plenty of talk about how the Cardinals had yet to beat a winning team and were not nearly as good as their record may have indicated.
7 years ago
Release of Adrian Wilson shows Cardinals entering new territory