With their sixth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Bengals selected Brandon Wilson, a cornerback out of Houston.
Wilson hasn’t been used much as a cornerback since his days in Houston. He’s made his impact at safety, and more importantly, on special teams.
The 5-foot-10 speedster had 24 kick returns in 2020 and totaled 629 yards with those. That comes out to a 26.2 yards per return average.
On top of that, Wilson took a 103-yard return to the house in a 19-17 loss to the New York Giants.
Of the 13 players that totaled over 20 returns, Wilson’s 26.2 per return average comes in at No. 6. He ended eighth in total yardage as well. Wilson was also one of just six NFL players to take a kick return back for a touchdown.
As you can tell, Wilson’s numbers on returns were among the best in the league, much like they were back in 2019 when the team first began using him as their kickoff returner. Wilson was a restricted free agent last year, making it easy for Cincinnati to bring him back on a one-year deal. The 26-year old can enter unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career this offseason if the Bengals don’t re-sign him first.
Wilson made $2.1 million last season and won’t command that much of a raise in salary. The Bengals should look to bring him back, and given his value is that of a special teams player more than anything, they won’t have very much competition for his services. Wilson is valuable enough for the Bengals to be interested in retaining him but not valuable enough for them to break the bank for him.
For Wilson to get more money from any NFL team, he needs to prove that he’s more than a returner. If he can become a competent defensive back as well, Wilson could see double the salary that he was given in 2020.
That’s the next step for Wilson, but until then, his ceiling will remain limited.