Given that we’re almost three weeks removed from the start of free agency, it’s more than surprising that the consensus No. 2 free agent center — Stefen Wisniewski — is still unsigned. There appears to be a reason for his cold market, however, as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports that Wisniewski is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery after he played the 2014 season with a torn larbrum.
Obviously, any sort of injury or surgery is going to make clubs wary, as evidenced by the fact that tight Jermaine Gresham still hasn’t found a home after it was revealed he was set to undergo a back operation. But Wisniewski’s injury situation might not be the only factor scaring clubs, as Biggs adds that the center is looking for a $4MM per year salary. Such a demand doesn’t sound extravagant, as that AAV wouldn’t even place Wisniewski inside the top 10 among centers. Per Biggs, however, no team has been willing to pay that price, and it’s possible that Wisniewski will have to ultimately sign a one- or two-year “prove-it” contract.
Wisniewski’s former club, the Raiders, have already replaced him, signing top FA center Rodney Hudson to a five-year, $44.5MM deal, and Oakland has no plans to re-sign Wisniewski to play guard. But he has drawn interest from a number of teams, including the Rams and Chiefs, and he met with the Buccaneers and Seahawks. According to Biggs, it would also “be a mistake to rule out the Bears” signing Wisniewski.
The 26-year-old Wisniewski didn’t fare too well in 2014, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), which rated him as the league’s 22nd-best center. Of course, his injury could have played a role in his decreased production, as PFF has assigned him a higher grade in years past. The Penn State alum was PFR’s No. 39 free agent.