Grumble, grumble. He’s ours. Grumble.
The arrow is pointing up with regards to Albert Wilson’s free agent stock, but that means the Chicago Bears could face increased competition for the wide receiver’s services. And the first hurdle to clear could come courtesy of Wilson’s current team.
In previewing free agency through the lens of the Kansas City Chiefs, Eric Eager of Pro Football Focus names Wilson as the player the team must re-sign this offseason. More grumbles.
We’ve discussed Wilson as a player who would make a ton of sense for the Bears and profiled him as a free agent target. And while PFF mentioned the Bears as the best fit for Wilson (along with Jarvis Landry and Allen Robinson), the Chiefs might not let their under-the-radar slot receiver go without a fight.
Fortunately, retaining Wilson is a job that’s easier said than done for a Chiefs front office that is hamstrung by salary cap issues. Kansas City has $12,594 in salary cap space and only the Philadelphia Eagles (who are over the cap by $9.4 million) are in more dire straits, according to OverTheCap.com. When it comes to dead money (cap space owed to players no longer on a team’s roster) the Chiefs’ $5.8 million is the eighth-highest number in the NFL.
And in case you forgot what we’re fighting for here … Wilson’s 77.7 overall grade last season would’ve ranked as the best among Bears receivers. He tied a career-best with 42 catches in the regular season and forced 15 missed tackles, which PFF notes was tied for the third most among wide receivers in 2017.
When Matt Nagy took over play-calling duties late in the season, Wilson saw a significant increase in usage (which serves to show how highly the Bears new head coach may think of him). And in the season finale against the Denver Broncos, he caught all 10 of the passes thrown to him by Patrick Mahomes, gaining 147 yards in the process.
It’s a small sample, but that kind of eye-opening production could encourage the Chiefs to do what they can to keep a quality player on their roster. Again, if they can swing it.
What might make Wilson attractive to teams other than Kansas City is that he is more than just a slot receiver. Wilson proved to be a well-rounded receiver for the Chiefs during his four-year stint, contributing on special teams and showing a willingness to engage as a run blocker. He earned a 69.8 run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus on 192 run-block snaps in 2017. That ranked 26th among the 108 qualifying receiver. All things considered, that’s a nice job done by the 5-9, 200-pound receiver. No wonder his popularity is on the rise.