Chiefs Sign Ex-Cardinals ‘Freak’ Ahead of Week 1 Matchup: Report

James Wiggins

Getty Former Arizona Cardinals safety James Wiggins celebrates a turnover during the 2022 preseason.

Strategy may be afoot. The Kansas City Chiefs worked out a recent Arizona Cardinals roster cut according to Pro Football Network reporter Aaron Wilson.

He tweeted: “Chiefs are working out safety James Wiggins (former Arizona Cardinals seventh-round draft pick from [the Cincinnati Bearcats] today, per a league source.”

With the Chiefs facing the Cardinals in Week 1, the immediate thought is that Wiggins might be a playbook spy — but could he be more for Kansas City if he agrees to sign?

Wiggins Nicknamed ‘Freak’ for Explosiveness & Strength

The Chiefs already have a “Greek Freak” on the roster but if they add Wiggins, they’ll have a Cincinnati “Freak” too.

During a Q&A via “On the Fly” with Lisa Matthews in 2021, Wiggins explained his college nickname. “Coach Brady, we had a little squat the first day,” the safety began, “chaos everywhere in the weight room and he was just throwing on weight. He was like alright, I need you to hit this for three-to-five and I ended up hitting it for 19 [reps], and he stopped me because I could have kept going. That’s how the nickname “the freak” came about, just [an] explosive, strong, athletic person really.”

Draft analysts agreed before Arizona landed the 2020 second-team AP All-American. NFL Network’s Lance Zierlein scouted him as an “explosive tester with [a] compact, muscular frame whose 2018 tape was simply better than what he put out in 2020 coming off his ACL injury… His short-area twitch and ability to quickly close on routes in front of him can be impressive.”

Bleacher Report’s Cory Giddings actually compared Wiggins to Chiefs 2022 free-agent acquisition Deon Bush.

“Wiggins is an ultra-athletic safety with a bit of a leaner frame,” Giddings detailed. “He has shown the versatility to play in two high shells, as well as being able to play in the box—and even occasionally blitz. Man coverage was one of his strong points, showing quick feet and a good burst out of breaks. During the 2018 season, Wiggins showed off the ball skills that aided him [in] his four interceptions. In the run game, Wiggins is a good tackler who recognizes the run well and inserts himself in the correct running lanes. However, there are times when he comes up out of control for the run and misses the tackle; which also could be because of his short arms. Wiggins is a good overall player who can fit in multiple schemes.”

In the end, both concluded that Wiggins’ ceiling was an “NFL backup” or “rotational player.” That was before he suffered a second knee injury during his rookie campaign.

Where Might Wiggins Fit In?

Wiggins was unable to hold onto a backup role with the Cardinals but he could join the Kansas City practice squad alongside rookie DB Nazeeh Johnson and second-year pro, Zayne Anderson. Although the Chiefs filled all 16 spots, they do have one roster spot open after head coach Andy Reid confirmed tight end Blake Bell’s move to the short-term injured reserve.

The expectation is that linebacker Elijah Lee will re-sign to the active roster, freeing up one job on the practice squad. Wiggins would most likely fit in there.

Jess Root of Cards Wire noted that Arizona was expected to add Wiggins to their own practice squad after he cleared waivers last week.

“He played a lot in the preseason and had ups and downs,” Root explained, “but the team is high on his future as a special teams player on [the] punt team.”

Apparently, that assessment wasn’t totally accurate, although the Chiefs could groom Wiggins in a similar sense. Another athlete for ST coordinator Dave Toub to get his hands on.

UPDATE: Wiggins Signs With KC Practice Squad

Later in the day on September 5, Wilson followed up on the story, reporting that Wiggins had indeed signed to the Chiefs practice squad.

Kansas City has yet to announce the move officially, which would need to include a corresponding transaction that would clear a spot on the practice squad.