There is one obvious reason that Isaiah Wilson is still with the Tennessee Titans.
Actually, there are several million of them.
Franchise officials don’t want to release their 2020 first-round draft pick until they know that they won’t be on the hook for future guarantees in his contract. That comes from Tony Pauline, the chief draft analyst for Pro Football Network, who addressed the situation recently on NFL Draft Insiders.
“What I am hearing right now is that there could be a decision sooner rather than later on Isaiah Wilson by the Tennessee Titans,” Pauline said. “If they feel they can get out of their Year 2 and 3 guarantees, they may just outright cut him. There are people telling me they will outright cut him.”
Wilson was the 29th overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, which earned him a four-year, $11.533 million contract that included more than $5 million in guarantees. There is $1.135,836 guaranteed salary for 2021, $1,661,672 for 2022 and $1.78 million for 2023 (source: OverTheCap.com).
If Pauline is correct, and the Titans can get out of the Year 2 and 3 guarantees, that will save them nearly $2.8 million. Perhaps more importantly, it will significantly reduce the amount of dead money Wilson will cost against the salary cap, a number affected by the team’s decision to prorate his signing bonus to just under $1.5 million for each year of the pact.
“He has starting potential and was the guy who was supposed to be the guy to replace Jack Conklin for the Tennessee Titans at right tackle,” Pauline said. “In fact, I think he is more talented, at least he is more athletic than Jack Conklin. It would be a waste of talent.”
Conklin, of course, was a first-round pick 2016 who started every game at right tackle as a rookie and earned All-Pro honors.
Things could not have gone more differently for Wilson. His first season as a professional was a tumultuous one that featured more off-the-field drama than playing time. General manager Jon Robinson recently put Wilson on notice about his future with the franchise and said it had been months since the two had any direct contact. Less than a week later, Wilson posted on Twitter – and soon removed the tweet – that he was done playing football for the Titans.
Tennessee reportedly is exploring trade possibilities in order to get a least some return for a high draft pick. It is not clear, though, how much of a market there is – or ever was – for a player with character questions.
“I also said multiple times in podcasts leading up to last year’s draft, that there are plenty of red flags, primarily personality issues that teams were concerned about,” Pauline said. “There were a number of teams across the league that had removed Wilson from their draft board completely because of these personality red flags.
“… The Tennessee Titans were not one of them. In fact, Tennessee saw no problems with Wilson. They had no red flags at all. … They said, ‘You know we are going to roll the dice, take some chances with him because he is so talented.’ … They thought he was great value.”
Now, they just hope he won’t cost them anymore than he has to.