A new era of Bears football begins in 2018 with Matt Nagy leading the way as the 16th head coach in franchise history. But for Nagy to succeed, he’ll need an injection of talent at various positions across the field – free agency is one such avenue for that improvement.
So let’s take a look at some of the more promising available free agents, to see if there might be a fit with the Chicago Bears.
Previously: CB David Amerson
Player, Age (in 2018), Position
Albert Wilson, 26, Wide receiver
Season stats: 13 games (7 starts), 42 catches (62 targets), 554 yards, 13.2 yards per reception, 3 touchdowns with the Kansas City Chiefs
Things seemed to change for Wilson until Matt Nagy took over the play calling for Andy Reid. In the first four games Nagy called plays, Wilson saw his workload increase substantially. After playing on more than 60 percent of the offense’s snaps twice in his first eight games, Wilson was in on at least 86 percent of the team’s plays in the final four games in which the regulars played.
Wilson’s best showing came in Week 17 when he caught all 10 pass attempts from rookie Patrick Mahomes for 147 yards in a 27-24 win against the Denver Broncos. Talk about going out with a bang.
Performance Before 2017
Career stats: 55 games (26 starts), 124 catches (198 targets), 1,544 yards, 12.5 yards per reception, seven touchdowns with the Chiefs (2014-17)
Wilson cut his teeth as a special teams contributor as a rookie in 2014, playing on 23.4% of special teams snaps. He started to carve out a role as a slot receiver a year later, playing on 65.4% of the offense’s snaps in 2015 after appearing on just 21.5% as a rookie. His playing time took a step back in his third and fourth seasons, but still had a place in the Chiefs’ offense as a slot receiver who did the nitty gritty work underneath. It’s not glorious work, but someone has to do it.
In The End …
Check this out: Chiefs quarterbacks posted a 101.3 passer rating and have completed 64.6 percent of their passes when throwing to Wilson in the last two seasons. Alex Smith, Nick Foles, and Patrick Mahomes combined to complete 73 of 113 attempts for 832 yards, five touchdowns, and no touchdowns. In fact, quarterbacks haven’t thrown an interception when targeting Wilson on their last 136 passes dating back to 2015.
Wilson could carve out a bigger role if he followed Nagy to Chicago, especially if he were to take over Kendall Wright’s role as the team’s primary slot receiver.
Even though Wilson wouldn’t be the kind of big splash signing fans would quickly rally around, he could be the type of addition who is easy to warm up to because of what he brings to the offense. If Pace were to prioritize bringing Wilson into the Bears’ mix of receivers, it should be welcomed with open arms. And if Wilson’s late-season up-tick in playing time and production is any indication, the best is yet to come for the Georgia State product – and if it happens in Chicago, then we’re talking about a perfect signing.