Cardinals sign veteran S Wilson to extension
Five-time Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson has agreed to restructure his contract and will take a pay cut unless he meets incentives established in the new four-year deal.
The extension, which runs through the 2015 season, was agreed to on Tuesday as the team reported to its training camp in Flagstaff.
The 32-year-old Wilson had two years remaining on the five-year, $39 million contract he signed in June 2009. His salary would have been $6.5 million this year and $7.5 million toward the cap. The new agreement lowers those numbers considerably. The Arizona Republic reported Wilson will take a $3.5 million pay cut this season.
But the total over the four years of the new deal could reach $28 million to $30 million if he meets certain incentives.
The team approached Wilson and his agent, Eugene Parker, to rework the contract. Wilson went along, with the main reason being his desire to retire as a Cardinal.
Had he not agreed to the restructuring, he knew he ran the risk of being released for salary cap reasons.
''I didn't want to be a cap casualty,'' Wilson said. ''At the same time I didn't want to go out and play for another team. I can't put my heart in another like I have this team. I knew that going in. I was just being honest with myself, and I'm here.''
No one else on the Arizona roster has been with the team as long as Wilson, a four-time team captain who was a third-round draft pick of the Cardinals in 2001.
Wilson said he wanted to help clear space for contracts for younger players.
''I think it helped out the team considerably with cap space, and I'm not in it for the money,'' he said. ''I have enough of that. I got extended a couple of years and I just want to end my career here. Hopefully, the things that I'm doing now, hopefully the young guys can understand why I'm doing it. Just trying to put them in a better situation down the road.''
Coach Ken Whisenhunt praised Wilson for his unselfishness.
''If you look at a lot of successful teams in the league, they have players that put the team first, which is important,'' Whisenhunt said. ''This is an unselfish move by Adrian. It gives us flexibility with the cap as well as a chance to get our team better. It's a tribute to Adrian and him putting the team first. That's what he's done. That's why he's been such a good leader and an outstanding player for us, and it means a lot.''
Wilson made the Pro Bowl last season for the fourth year in a row, despite being slowed by a torn biceps, an injury he sustained in training camp and that never fully healed throughout the season. Wilson, like most of his teammates on defense, struggled early with the system of new coordinator Ray Horton, but came on strong at the end of the season as the Cardinals won seven of their last nine games to finish 8-8.
Wilson finished the 2011 season with a career-high 16 passes defensed. He had 75 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble. He was in on 1,134 defensive snaps, most of any player in the NFL.
The durable strong safety has played in 166 games, 10th-most in franchise history. In his 11-year career, Wilson has 26 interceptions, 22 1/2 sacks, 12 forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries.
This is the fourth contract he has signed since the Cardinals chose him out of North Carolina State.
Running back Beanie Wells and tight end Jeff King failed their physicals and begin camp on the active physically unable to perform list. King, recovering from surgery to repair a quadriceps injury sustain in offseason workouts, was not expected to be ready to practice. Wells, though, was something of a surprise. He played last year with a sore knee and underwent surgery shortly after the season ended. Whisenhunt said he didn't expect either to be sidelined for long.
The Cardinals get an early start to training camp because they will play in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, against New Orleans on Aug. 5. The team holds its first workout Wednesday at its Northern Arizona University practice facility amid the thin air and pines of Flagstaff, with an elevation of 7,000 feet and temperatures that are far cooler than the triple-digits of Phoenix.
The team will work out for four days this week and next week before heading to Canton. After that, the Cardinals will practice in Kansas City before playing the Chiefs there on Aug. 10.
One of the main issues of training camp is at quarterback, where coach Ken Whisenhunt has declared an open competition between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.
The only player with a significant injury is tight end Jeff King, who is recovering from surgery to repair a quadriceps injury sustained during offseason workouts.
Running backs Beanie Wells, who is coming off knee surgery, and Ryan Williams, who missed all of what would have been his rookie season with a knee injury, are expected to be limited at least through the early portion of training camp.