Stefen Wisniewski Remains On Open Market Following Offseason Surgery


Dec 28, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Oakland Raiders center Stefen Wisniewski (61) lines up against the Denver Broncos in the first quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

When the Oakland Raiders replaced center Stefen Wisniewski with an upgrade via Rodney Hudson many assumed that Wiz would land elsewhere somewhat quickly given his experience as a starter for the Silver and Black for much of his rookie contract. After all, the center has been graded inside the top half of players at the position by Pro Football Focus over the past two seasons and because of his steady play along with his young age at 26 the now former Raider was considered one of the best available players at his position once Hudson signed in Oakland.

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That hasn’t happened however as Wisniewski will be entering April without a contract and without a team, missing out on the first and second waves of free agency as the league has turned their attentions to the upcoming 2015 NFL Draft with Wiz still out there for the taking in the open market. Teams showing interest initially, but ultimately no team showing enough interest to bring in a player who has something to offer either as a starter or as a depth piece who can play guard in addition to his most recent role at center.

The reason for the lack of a new deal for Wiz has been reported recently as an offseason shoulder surgery that has cooled teams on the center the same way that tight end Jermaine Gresham’s interest has fallen off a cliff after an offseason surgery of his own. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reporting that the Bears (amongst other teams) lost interest in Wisniewski upon learning he surgically repaired a torn labrum this offseason.

From the Tribune:

"The Bears were linked to center Stefen Wisniewski at the outset of free agency and he is one of the better remaining players on the market. . . Wisniewski is recovering from shoulder surgery after last season when he played with a torn labrum. The former second-round pick of the Raiders has made visits to the Seahawks and Bucs, and the Rams and Chiefs are also known to be interested. No team has been willing to meet his request of $4 million per season and it could be he winds up on a one- or two-year prove-it contract. At this point, it would be a mistake to rule out the Bears."

The development of Wisniewski’s recent surgery on his shoulder makes sense of Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie’s disagreement with the center surrounding his value before free agency, refusing to pay the asking price for Wiz before going out and getting Hudson in early March. McKenzie smartly moving on from his starting center despite his family bloodlines to the franchise and the fan support for Wiz that came with it during his time with the Raiders. Upgrading the position and not paying above market value for Wisniewski giving McKenzie a small offseason victory.

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Expect Wisniewski to sign a deal somewhere eventually once he can pass a physical and teams monitor his rehab, but with his camp expecting a contract that would have put him in the top half of players at his position in terms of a pricetag the news of shoulder surgery will drive that price down even further. Teams with tight cap situations such as the Chiefs likely to take a shot on a player with mild injury concerns if they can convince Wisniewski that he is asking above his market value in order to get him at a bargain.

While unfortunate, the camp surrounding Wisniewski were always asking too much for a player who is just slightly above replacement level in terms of starting talent, something that drove the player out of Oakland with McKenzie refusing to pay. Now Wisniewski will be signing a “prove it” contract, taking even less money after starting the free agency process expecting far more than what he was worth in a disappointing development for a player who was hoping to cash in after the expiration of his rookie deal.