Update: The Jacksonville Jaguars have officially signed Damien Wilson, per the team’s Twitter account on Friday, April 2.
The Kansas City Chiefs linebacking corps has quietly been one of the team’s most consistent units over the past two seasons, albeit not sexy. While the unit lacks the star power of the Chiefs’ receiving corps or remade defensive line, Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson have started a combined 58 regular season games since 2019.
However, the latter has now hit the free agent market and doesn’t appear to be in the team’s plans moving forward after general manager Brett Veach and company spent a second-round pick on Willie Gay Jr. in last year’s NFL Draft.
According to ESPN insider Field Yates on Wednesday afternoon, Wilson is now taking an official free agent visit with the Jaguars. The meeting is the first publically reported visit for the seventh-year linebacker this offseason.
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Wilson’s Game Reached a New Level With Chiefs
Wilson, who turns 28 years old on May 28, originally entered the league as a fourth-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2015. His first four seasons in Dallas returned only middling results as a part-time starter, with Wilson racking up 121 combined tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 64 games (22 starts). The 6-foot, 245-pounder did not earn a second contract with the Cowboys, but instead elected to ink a two-year, $5.75 million deal in Kansas City.
The move has paid dividends for Wilson, who started 29-of-32 games for the AFC champion Chiefs over the last two seasons — missing the first three games of his pro career in 2020 after a knee injury kept him out between Weeks 14-16.
Wilson has respectively finished second (81) and third (73) on the team in total tackles in 2019 and 2020, both doubling his previous single-season high of 37 with the Cowboys. Given the slow free agent market that has taken the worst toll on veterans like Wilson, he may be in line for a similar contract length and salary in 2021 if Jacksonville chooses to sign him.
The Jaguars’ linebacking group is currently headlined by 2016 second-rounder Myles Jack and former Cleveland Browns Pro Bowler Joe Schobert, though Wilson makes sense as a veteran upgrade at the third spot on a team-friendly deal. The team, however, is a significant downgrade following an NFL-worst 1-15 season that earned the AFC South bottom-dwellers the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Chiefs Finalize 2 New Signings
On Wednesday, the Chiefs officially added two more names to its offseason roster: defensive tackle Jarran Reed and running back Elijah McGuire.
Reed, of course, was Kansas City’s latest big-name free agent signing, inking a one-year deal worth up to $7 million ($5 guaranteed) earlier this week. During his introductory press conference on Wednesday, the former Seattle Seahawks standout revealed that he left money on the table to help the Chiefs defense “wreak havoc” in 2021.
According to the NFL’s official transaction report, McGuire, 26, is re-upping with Kansas City on a one-year deal of his own, as first reported by ESPN’s Jordan Schultz on March 18. The former New York Jets sixth-round pick first joined the Chiefs practice squad in November 2019, but spent brief stints with the Cowboys and Miami Dolphins practice squads last season before rejoining the Chiefs in the same capacity in December.
For now, he’ll slot into a running back group featuring 202 first-rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire and complementary pieces Darrel Williams, Darwin Thompson and Derrick Gore.
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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!