According to multiple sources, Kansas City Chiefs second-round pick linebacker Willie Gay Jr. will not play in the Super Bowl due to a torn meniscus he suffered in practice this week.
Gay had emergency surgery on his knee yesterday and according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, his four-month recovery should allow him to be fully healthy and ready for the 2021-22 season.
The second-round pick played in 267 snaps this season, equaling 24.81% of all the defense's snaps. In 16 games this season, the rookie recorded 39 tackles, three tackles for loss, three passes defended and one sack.
Gay has been used in a limited role in the Chiefs' defense this season. Kansas City defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo talked about Gay's progress in the system on December 31, ahead of the Chiefs' Week 17 game against the Los Angeles Chargers when Gay would ultimately suffer an ankle injury that kept him out of the Chiefs' previous two playoff games.
Spagnuolo said Gay has played fast this season but had an extra challenge as he tried to pick up the defense with no preseason programs.
“What Willie does is he plays fast," Spagnuolo said. "He plays fast and he’s physical and that’s what you want in your linebackers. There’s still a learning curve here, I think that’s true of anybody that plays that particular position in Year 1. And again, I go back to not having the offseason and whatnot, but we’re getting him caught up. He’s certainly going to see a lot of football now, and that’s a good thing for him.”
Kansas City linebackers Damien Wilson and Ben Niemann are both free agents in 2021. Wilson is an unrestricted free agent while Niemann is a restricted free agent.