Albert Wilson is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason but has proven value if the Chiefs want to bring him back.
Before the 2017 season, most Kansas City Chiefs fans likely thought little of bringing wide receiver Albert Wilson back for another year. It was easy to fall in love with preseason stars like Marcus Kemp, who we hoped get the roster spot instead. I’ll admit that I was one of those fans, especially after his 2016 campaign.
Wilson changed my mind in 2017, however..
The undrafted free agent had a very disappointing 2016 season finishing with only 279 yards. There was plenty of question about his motivation or effort in games last year. It was a completely different story in 2017 as Wilson looked much more refined. His routes looked much improved, he fought for extra yards after every catch, and the biggest change was that he wasn’t afraid to get hit.
The 25-year-old receiver made catches this season that no one expected. There were numerous grabs that ended with him getting laid out as he came down with the ball. He had never been a big contributor in a single game till week 17 when he broke multiple career highs.
Before week 17, Wilson had yet to catch more than five passes or collect more than 87 receiving yards in a single game. He finished week 17 with 10 catches for 147 yards in only 28 offensive snaps. There was a true chemistry between Wilson and rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The fourth-year receiver also set a career high with 554 yards on the season on 42 receptions.
In fact, Wilson was a big contributor in the final drive against Denver catching three passes for 40 yards to help get the Chiefs in position for a field goal.
None of these stats make you jump out of your seat at first glance. When you remember that Wilson is the third receiver, it changes things a bit. Not only was Wilson the Chiefs third receiver but he also wracked up 554 yards while playing in twelve games and on a team that had two 1,000 yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher. That’s impressive.
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When Chiefs receiver Chris Conley went down for the season, they needed Wilson to step up in this offense. Wilson missed games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Giants, all of which the quarterback Alex Smith and the offense severely struggled with lack of depth at the position. While he doesn’t make huge contributions on the stat sheet game-to-game, he is a part of this offense and a go-to guy for Smith.
Following the best season of his career, Wilson could have some leverage when it comes to contract negotiations. It’s possible that the veteran could move on to a new team next year where he will play a bigger role and get more opportunities. If the Chiefs want to keep Wilson in Kansas City, they will have to pay a bit more for him. Not big money but not league minimum either.
Another option for Wilson could be following offensive coordinator Matt Nagy to the Chicago Bears where they desperately need help at the wide receiver position. Rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky had almost zero talent around him in 2017, something I expect them to improve this offseason. Another likely landing spot would be the Cleveland Browns where former Chiefs GM John Dorsey has taken a new job. Dorsey was one of the biggest reasons that Wilson stuck around Kansas City.