We might have seen the last of wide receiver Marquess Wilson in a Chicago Bears uniform.
The 24-year-old receiver has been plagued with injuries since being selected in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
In June 2016, Wilson re-broke his left foot in minicamp. He was put on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and missed the first nine games of the season.
He played in just three games last season, a year after he played in a career-high 11 games for the Bears during 2015.
“It’s really frustrating,” Wilson said following the campaign. “I just want to be able to show what I can do and help the team out. It’s just like I’m letting them down and letting myself down. I’m doing everything I can to stay healthy.”
But his most recent injury could mark the end of his career with the Bears. Wilson is set to be an unrestricted free agent this off-season and he’s fully expected to test the market.
Aside from his 2015 campaign, Chicago hasn’t seen the consistency needed in order to have faith in the young receiver.
Wilson has just 56 receptions for 777 yards and 3 touchdowns in his four seasons with the Bears. He’s started in 14 of the 31 games he’s played and has flashed some potential. At times, it appeared as if the Bears had a seventh-round steal on their hands. His problems have stemmed from not being able to stay on the field.
Wilson broke his collarbone during training camp in 2014 after diving for a deep pass.
He was placed on the PUP list and missed the first nine games of the regular season. Wilson returned for the final seven games of the year and recorded the first touchdown reception of his career.
During the 2015 season, Wilson showed some serious promise. He entered the year healthy and compiled 28 receptions for 464 yards in 11 games. His productivity increased due to injuries to fellow receiver Alshon Jeffery, who missed seven games.
But just when Wilson was ascending, he suffered another major setback, breaking his foot and missing the final five games of the season.
Going into the 2016 season, the Bears receivers were considered a strength of the team. Yet injuries systematically dismantled the unit.
“I think our overall receiver unit, we just lacked availability there,” said GM Ryan Pace. “We had a lot of guys in and out of the lineup and I can go through them all; and that’s hard when there’s that many receivers coming in and out and that many quarterbacks coming in and out. You know the chemistry that has to take place between those two positions.”
There’s a chance Wilson may find himself back in Chicago next season but only because the Bears receivers corps are a big question mark.
Jeffery played under the franchise tag in 2016 and could be tagged again this off-season if the two sides can’t come to an agreement. It’s tough to see the Bears letting a talent like that walk but if Jeffery does bolt, that would leave a gaping hole in the Bears offense.
The emergence of Cameron Meredith gives the Bears a big, young wideout with plenty of upside but former first rounder Kevin White has played in just four game his first two NFL seasons. After two leg surgeries, no one knows what to expect of White going forward.
That may compel Pace to re-sign Wilson but it would likely be on a short-term, incentive-based deal. Considering his lengthy injury history, a long-term contract just isn't feasible.
“It’s out of my control,” Wilson said. “Like I said, I have no control on what they do. I’d love to be back but if they have other plans then, you know.”
Wilson is only 24 and could still develop into a quality No. 2 NFL receiver but he's too risky for a hefty investment. If he's looking to get paid, it's unlikely he'll be playing in Chicago next season.null