NFL Rumors: Latest on Russell Wilson Trade Buzz, Akiem Hicks and MoreMarch 22, 2021
NFL Rumors: Latest on Russell Wilson Trade Buzz, Akiem Hicks and More
The first wave of NFL free agency is over, and most of the top names are off the market. However, anyone thinking that the rumor mill is ready to slow down should probably think again.
While the second wave of free agency doesn't typically carry as much drama as the first, there's plenty of speculation to go around. Many quality players are still available, and those taking their time with the process are likely to have multiple suitors.
The trade market can also see a surge in free agency's second wave. Some teams will consider trades as certain positional pools shrink. Others will look to create cap space. And there will be those looking to maximize their trade leverage before the NFL draft, which gets underway April 29.
The rumors are indeed still rolling. Here, we'll examine some of the latest.
A Russell Wilson Trade Could Still Happen
The Seattle Seahawks are one franchise that could look to maximize its trade value ahead of the draft. Their biggest trade chip is quarterback Russell Wilson, and while they have rejected trade offers thus far, that could change.
The Chicago Bears made a play for Wilson early in free agency. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Chicago was told that Seattle wouldn't be moving Wilson "at this time."
More recently, however, Schefter reported that the Bears aren't giving up on a Wilson trade—and they are wise to take that approach.
"I'm told that the Bears still are paying attention to Russell Wilson and have not abandoned hopes that they could eventually trade for Russell Wilson," Schefter recently said on Get Up. "And I think that everybody needs to stay tuned to Russell Wilson's situation up to and during the NFL draft."
The issue facing Seattle is that its relationship with Wilson appears to be strained. Wilson has voiced his displeasure with his lack of protection, and Seattle hasn't been thrilled with the course he took.
"A source told me that the Seahawks management is not happy with Russell Wilson and his camp for taking this to the media," Dan Patrick said on The Dan Patrick Show (h/t Rob Staton of BBC Sports). "... The current situation is unsustainable."
As the Seahawks continue to evaluate this year's quarterback class, they may decide that the right trade package—presumably one involving a high first-round selection in 2021—could be better for the franchise than trying to make things work with an unhappy Wilson. And there's no guarantee that trade options won't be revisited next offseason if Wilson stays in Seattle this year.
This is a situation worth following through the draft.
Bears Likely to Keep Akiem Hicks
The Bears weren't in the greatest of cap situations heading into free agency, and the use of the franchise tag on wideout Allen Robinson II is set to eat $17.9 million in space. As things stand, Chicago is nearly $4 million over the cap—and that's after the release of starting cornerback Kyle Fuller.
The Bears dumped Fuller in a cap-saving effort, and he subsequently signed with the Denver Broncos.
Losing Fuller, a two-time Pro Bowler, isn't likely to benefit the Bears defense on the field—and there was speculation that another key contributor could be on the way out. Chicago briefly opened the trade market on defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, though it appears that the Bears have decided to reverse course.
"Sources who said Akiem Hicks was available are now indicating he's likely back with the Bears," Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweeted. "They have a major hole to fill at CB but would keep the front seven of the defense in place. Certainly has been a fluid start to the new league year for the team."
Hicks is an important piece in Chicago's defensive front. Last season, he produced 49 tackles, 3.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss and 21 quarterback hits.
There's no guarantee that Hicks won't still be moved—especially if the right offer comes along—but it seems that Chicago won't have to deal with losing two defensive playmakers in the same week.
Of course, this also means that the Bears will need to find another solution for getting under the salary cap.
K'Waun Williams Drawing Interest
While Fuller didn't stay on the open market long, San Francisco 49ers cornerback K'Waun Williams remains available heading into Week 2 of free agency. The 29-year-old is drawing interest from multiple teams too, which shouldn't come as a surprise.
While Williams was limited to eight games in 2020, he played 15 in 2019 and was fantastic. That season, he amassed 51 tackles, four forced fumbles, two interceptions, a sack and an opposing passer rating of just 76.1.
Williams has produced an opposing passer rating below 82.0 in each of the past two seasons.
According to Mike Kaye of NJ.com, Williams is set to visit with the Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday. Kaye also reported that the New York Jets have had some interest in Williams—which, again, shouldn't be surprising.
Williams played for new Jets head coach Robert Saleh for four seasons in San Francisco. If Saleh is looking to utilize his defensive system to New York, bringing along one of his former players would be a logical move.
The Chiefs, though, would likely give Williams an immediate chance to chase a title. If the offer is fair, he may not leave Kansas City without a contract.
Cap information via Spotrac. Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference.