Earlier this week, NFL reporter Tom Pelissero published an interesting list with a reminder. It was a post that stated that a long list of veterans had their official contracts expire with their now-former teams after languishing on the practice squads of teams no longer active in the postseason.
Just like that, a new list of free agents was made available, and while the Kansas City Chiefs have their roster intact with further help waiting in the wings on their own practice squad, one name did stand out in the wake of current injuries.
Back to Pelissero's list for a second. Here's what he posted on Monday:
A run through the list showcases several "name" players who are now free to sign with a team, but linebacker Damien Wilson is the person of interest here. That's because he not only has an extensive history with the Chiefs and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo but he could also provide some security at a weaker point at the position for the Chiefs.
On Sunday, Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay Jr. came into the Divisional Round against the Buffalo Bills listed as questionable with a neck injury. He played a total of 11 snaps on defense before succumbing to the injury once again and he left for the rest of the game. In addition to the loss of Gay, linebacker Cam Jones was also recently placed on injured reserve after a solid showing in the regular season finale against the Chargers.
The Chiefs are loaded with talent up top at the linebacker position, so they're still largely set with Nick Bolton, Drue Tranquill, and Leo Chenal. They also have Jack Cochrane waiting in the wings along with Cole Christiansen. And the Chiefs already added a familiar face in Darius Harris to the practice squad earlier this year.
That said, Wilson has been a full-time starter at linebacker for the Chiefs in the past and even started all 17 games for the Jacksonville Jaguars a year ago. This year, he's played in every single game and started 5 more for the Carolina Panthers. He had 38 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 forced fumble during the regular season.
Most importantly for the Chiefs, Wilson made 29 starts at linebacker in K.C. 2019-20 who helped the team most as a run-stopper.
At this juncture, the Chiefs are likely set with what they have internally given their overall depth and the top-end talent still available despite Gay's injury. It's also possible Gay will return in time to play the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game on Sunday. But as of this week, there's another option with the knowledge and experience to likely step in and help if K.C. needs more of it.