NASHVILLE — Ahead of one of the biggest games of their 2020 season, the Tennessee Titans (8-3) suspended right tackle Isaiah Wilson for Sunday against the Cleveland Browns (8-3).
One of the worst rookie seasons in franchise history continues its downward spiral.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Wilson’s suspension did not come from any new violation. It is believed that the latest headline, reported Thursday by Paul Kuharsky, involving the Georgia product in a car accident on Oct. 27 and the distractions it has caused were the team’s grounds. While there might not be new infractions by Wilson, Tennessee’s messaging is clear.
The Titans 2020 first round pick is no longer a priority until the offseason.
Wilson’s five months in Nashville have been catastrophic.
Since being drafted, the rookie has been busted by TSU campus police at a party amidst a pandemic party, reportedly contemplated jumping out of a second-story balcony to evade them, gotten in two (confirmed) wrecks and been arrested for DUI. Wilson’s two separate COVID list stints (the second for a month) caused him to miss valuable practice time early in this year and, right after successfully stringing together a couple of weeks at Saint Thomas Sports park, been suspended for one of the season’s most important games.
That reads as more rap sheet than reputation.
Coach Mike Vrabel was asked about Wilson after his first game on the active game day roster Nov. 23.
“Sure,” said Vrabel when asked about Wilson and the need for him to step up at a position where Tennessee has seen a fair amount of injuries. “We have talked to Isaiah (Wilson) about continuing to string some days together, positive days, and coming in here and being prepared and practicing and proving to everybody that he knows what to do and he plays in a manner which we expect our offensive linemen to play.”
It seems that Wilson cannot be counted upon to do even that at this stage.
What Are The Options?
Tennessee signed veteran tackle Marshall Newhouse to their practice squad on Nov. 27. The nine-year pro has started 81 of his career 129 appearances. Last season Newhouse played 15 games, including nine starts (8 at left tackle/1 at right tackle) for the New England Patriots. He has tallied time at both tackle spots and guard. Versatility has always been a trait that Vrabel and GM Jon Robinson place a high value on.
Signing Newhouse signals that the franchise needs a veteran offensive lineman that they can trust.
“I know (Newhouse)’s a pro,” said Vrabel on Nov. 27. “He’s played in a lot of games. My interaction with him went as well as it possibly could. Introduced myself, told him we’d get him pointed in the right direction, and his response was, ‘Whatever you need,’ so maybe we need to sign more guys like that.”
Show Me The Money
While under suspension, Wilson will not be paid.
The rookie’s contract factors out to four years, $11.5 million with $11.3 million guaranteed to him at signing. The dead cap to cut Wilson starts at that $11.3 million in 2020, goes down to $5.3 million in 2021, $2.75 million in 2022 and $2.58 million in the final season of the deal. One fails to find an NFL asset that has depreciated this fast. Robinson has seen this past offseason’s investments (Vic Beasley, Johnathan Joseph, Jadeveon Clowney, Wilson, Kristian Fulton and Darryton Evans) fall short for a variety of different reasons.
Wilson’s failures are by far the most egregious.
Titans players are largely over having to answer questions about the rookie or thinking he’s turned a corner. No one wants to talk about a player who contributes nothing but headaches and distractions to the team that gave him a Once-In-A-Lifetime opportunity. Through Week 12 of the NFL season, Wilson has accounted for two game day actives, one special teams snap and three in victory formation of last Sunday’s 45-26 road romp of the Indianapolis Colts.
Tennessee will not give up on him immediately, nor should they. It is Vrabel, Robinson & Co.’s responsibility to salvage what they can of Wilson’s future. The coach and GM of the Titans have not hesitated, though, to admit mistakes and cut bait when it appears there is nothing left to do.
Wilson’s potential made him a first round draft pick. His past behavior has manifested as serious problem. The rookie’s future remains in his own hands.
So far, he’s done a piss poor job of handling it.