C.J. Wilson had never been unemployed for so long, or, with the exception of his redshirt year in college, spent so much time without football.
The last four weeks, then, were rough. The 6-3, 290-pound defensive lineman was cut Aug. 31 by the Saints. After a Dolphins tryout didn’t lead to a job, Wilson was left to wonder when he’d ever play again.
“I’ve been doing this since peewee league,” said Wilson, who signed with the Bears on Tuesday. “I’m 29 now. I’ve been doing this 20 years. This is what I do.”
He joked his parents were “bugging me every day” after whether he’d heard from his agent.
“It’s very frustrating, because I feel like I got a lot more juice left in the tank, a lot more gas,” he said. “I feel like this is home to me.”
It’s close to his previous home. Wilson started two games for the Super Bowl XLV-winning Packers in 2010 and appeared in 35 more games for them over the next three years. He spent 2014 and four games last year in Oakland before appearing eight times for the Lions last year.
The Bears signed Wilson, who has aunts and uncles in Evanston, to add more beef to a defensive line that was bullied with nose tackle Eddie Goldman gone. He’ll play inside in the nickel, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said, while the Bears “think he will have flexibility for nose or end” in the base set.
Wilson isn’t sure if he’ll play this week, but hopes he can be part of the solution to an 0-3 start.
“I’m hoping that I’ll play whenever I get an opportunity,” he said.