Often times in the NFL today, when a new head coach brings a new offensive or defensive scheme into town they like to bring with them a player or two who is familiar with the system. For somebody who fits that bill, new Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy can look no further than Chiefs receiver Albert Wilson.
The diminutive yet speedy Wilson has shown himself to be a solid all-around target for Kansas City and clearly established a connection to the young signal caller Patrick Mahomes towards the end of 2018. Chicago, a team that desperately needs receiving threats and has an inexperienced quarterback of their own in Mitchell Trubisky, has been speculated to be in the market for his services, and with good reason.
I take a closer look at Wilson’s free agency candidacy here, in a profile of an available player who could upgrade the Bears’ roster.
Wilson’s numbers aren’t anything that will blow you away. He produced like a number three wideout last season, hauling in 42 catches for 554 yards and three touchdowns and catching a solid 67.7 percent of his targets. Wilson’s game tape, however, indicates that he could be more than just a number three.
I see a receiver who plays bigger than he is, someone who catches the ball in traffic well, is a terrific route runner, does well in the screen game, and possesses enough speed to keep defenses honest. He’s at his best out of the slot but unlike most 5’9″ receivers are not incapable of lining up on the outside.
His stats are inflated by a ten catch 147-yard performance against Denver in Week 17, in a game that didn’t matter for playoff positioning, which in some instances can be a red flag. In this case, though, it’s a great sign, because that was the only game that rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes started for Kansas City. It takes skill to earn the trust of a young quarterback, and Wilson seems to have that skill, something that will prove incredibly valuable for the Bears.
Wilson, despite his size, is not immune to the occasional highlight play, as he showed against Oakland with a spectacular one-handed grab. In an absolute best case scenario outcome, he’s a shorter, faster Jarvis Landry at less than half the cost. Realistically, it’s not out of the question to think Wilson could step up his production and become an above average number two target.
Obviously, Wilson is a scheme fit for Matt Nagy, he was his offensive coordinator last year. As we saw in 2016 with John Fox and Danny Trevathan the former coach and player connection can be quite effective.
It could influence a player in Wilson that would already come cheap (my estimate is about $3-5 million dollars per year) to take an even greater discount, especially after he himself proclaimed that he isn’t sure if the Chiefs want him back. Statements like those often lead to players hitting the open market.
Much like the Trevathan signing, which was also wildly predicted, I expect Wilson to be a Chicago Bear as soon as free agency opens in March. The need, affordability, and connection with the coach make connecting the dots relatively easy in this scenario.