With a second unit offensive line partially to blame for a disappointing Super Bowl LV loss and both starting offensive tackles currently recovering from significant injuries, the Kansas City Chiefs are expected to be on the hunt for upgrades and depth across the offensive line this offseason.
One longshot option could be Tennesee Titans offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson, who is now being shopped by the club who drafted him 29th overall last April, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Thursday.
The report led to FanSided’s national NFL columnist Matt Verderame to chime in with an interesting perspective regarding the troubled 22-year-old.
“This is strictly my opinion: Considering Brett Veach’s longstanding history of trying to hoard former first-round picks looking for a fresh start, and then factoring in the OL situation, the Chiefs make a ton of sense here,” Verderame tweeted minutes later.
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Titans GM Sounded off on Wilson Last Week
The former first-rounder out of Georgia has had himself one heck of a first year as a professional … and not in a positive way. As Rapoport alluded to, Wilson’s rookie year, which included just four regular season snaps, ended abruptly in December with a trip to the non-football injury list, along with two stints on the reserve/COVID list last year.
Last week, Titans general manager Jon Robinson had some strong words for one of his biggest recent investments, suggesting that Wilson needs to figure out whether he wants to continue playing in the NFL.
“We put him on the reserve/non-football injury list and haven’t spoken to him since,” Robinson told reporters during a virtual news conference on February 16, via ESPN. “He’s going to have to make a determination on whether he wants to do what it takes to play pro football. That will be on him. … I know what the expectation level is here, and it’s no different than any other player on the football team. We have a certain standard that we want players to prepare and perform at professionally, and as people, and there’s a lot of work to be done there.”
On Monday, six days after Robinson’s call out, the 6-foot-6, 350-pounder posted and quickly deleted a tweet saying, “Im done with football as a Titan… No further comments.”
According to ESPN, Wilson’s rookie campaign was also littered with a pair of run-ins with law enforcement.
The first incident came when Tennessee State University police broke up an off-campus party that Wilson had attended during training camp. In their report, the police documented that Wilson went to the second-floor balcony, where he appeared to briefly consider jumping. He received a trespass warning.
The second incident occurred when Wilson was arrested and charged with a DUI in September when he lost control of his vehicle and struck a concrete wall.
All of that adds up to the Titans hoping to cut their losses via trade before June 1, which could save the club $2.63 million in cap space compared to an outright release, which would alternatively cost them $2.75 million.
Is Wilson Worth a Gamble for the Chiefs?
This situation is an ugly one and only highlights how complicated the NFL Draft process can be when NFL front offices are attempting to project the professional future of young 20-somethings. At this point, the likelihood of a team trading an asset for a player who may not be committed to the sport or his teammates remains very low, meaning Wilson’s future is more likely to end in a release from Tennessee.
However, the talented 22-year-old is still under contract through the 2023 season, with a fifth-year team option for the 2024 campaign, all for modest annual cap hits between $2.63 and $3.68 million. That’s to suggest that a team willing to take a low-risk, high-reward chance on Wilson could find themselves a bargain should they unlock his on-field potential.
Interestingly enough, the Chiefs, who have built a stable locker room under general manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid, are not exactly risk-averse. The team has taken similar gambles recently, whether via free agency with Taco Charlton, DeAndre Baker, Le’Veon Bell, Mike Pennel and Tyrann Mathieu or “red flag” draft picks such as Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Willie Gay. Many of which have turned out in the Chiefs’ favor due to strong leadership and coaching.
However, this may be a situation worth staying clear of considering Kansas City already has a number of young, versatile offensive line prospects in the pipeline in the form of Lucas Niang, Yasir Durant and Price Tega Wanagho.
Veach has eight picks to work with in this year’s draft (including two fifth-rounders and a seventh-rounder as potential trade bait), but they’d be put to better use on a developmental prospect who is actually willing to dedicate himself to his craft and the Chiefs organization. One option could be Stanford’s Walker Little, who ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper predicted to land in Kansas City in his most recent 2021 NFL mock draft this week.
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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!