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BOSTON (CBS) – When NFL free agency began last week, safety Adrian Wilson received a phone call he didn’t hesitate to pick up.
It was Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, calling to say he wanted Wilson to play for him in New England.
“Whenever Coach Belichick calls, you answer. That’s not a call that you send to voicemail,” Wilson said in his first media availability since signing a three-year deal with New England.
“New England was definitely my first choice,” he said. “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.”
After spending 12 seasons in Arizona, and playing in just six playoff games, Wilson was open to a cross-country move if it meant another shot at a Super Bowl. But he knows as a 33-year-old safety, nothing is promised.
“Ultimately, at the end of the day, I’m going to come in and compete with everybody else and see what my role is on the team. I have no problems with that. Coach Belichick was very upfront and I have nothing but total respect for him and what the organization has done throughout the years,” said Wilson.
In Wilson, the Patriots get a physical veteran safety in a secondary that needs leadership. He’s had a knack for making plays throughout his career, with 27 interceptions and 25.5 sacks to his name — one of only six players in NFL history that can make that claim. His tackle totals have dipped off recently, down to just 39 in 15 games last season.
Wilson knows father time isn’t on his side, but NFL rules have also changed drastically since he was taken in the third round of the 2001 draft. Despite the rules changes, Wilson is going to keep conveying his hard-hitting ways to his new teammates.
“I was brought up in that toughness type of aspect and the aspect of setting the tone for the defense, being that guy that would go out and do whatever he had to do to let the offense know what type of day it was going to be. That’s what I came up in when I first came into the league,” he said. “I’ve tried to taper my game a little bit toward the rules and what it is now. Football is physical; football is a man’s sport. I just hope that I can convey that same message to the secondary that we have there in New England now. Just go out there and be Adrian and be who I am.”
Changing uniforms means Wilson will enter a completely new locker room come July, and he admits he doesn’t have any connections to his new teammates. But Wilson doesn’t see that as a negative.
“I feel like that’s a good thing because you can start fresh and you can let the guys understand what type of player you are and what type of person that you are,” he said. “Really at the end of the day, we’re all trying to get to the same goal and that’s to win a Super Bowl. That’s the only thing that I’m coming to do, to be quite honest with you.”
Wilson did talk with fellow safety Devin McCourty, who was rehabbing at Gillette Stadium when we walked through, and corner Kyle Arrington — though his conversation with Arrington didn’t have much to do with defensive schemes.
It was all about the No. 24 — a number Arrington has, and Wilson wants.
“I was really just trying to get my number from Kyle Arrington, really to be honest with you,” Wilson admitted. “I told him I know he just had a new baby. I know he signed a new contract but I offered him a year’s supply of Pampers. Hopefully he gets back to me.”