The sigh of relief that exited Logan Wilson once he finalized his four-year contract extension was less about finances and more about real estate. Wilson knew teams would line up to pay him well if he reached free agency next offseason, but what he wanted more than anything was to stay with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Logan Wilson Feels a ‘Small Part’ of the Cincinnati Bengals Organization
“The biggest reason why I didn’t want to leave was being part of the turnaround that we’ve had here and not wanting to leave what we’ve kind of started, kind of keep that train moving forward,” Wilson said Sunday afternoon prior to the start of practice.
The Bengals were coming off a 2-14 season when they drafted Wilson in the third round in 2020, and they went 4-11-1 in his rookie year. Since then, it’s been back-to-back AFC North titles, consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances, and an appearance on the game’s biggest stage for Super Bowl LVI.
“It means a lot to me to be a small part of this organization from kind of where we were, you know, in COVID year, winning like four football games to where we’re at now,” Wilson said.
“To be a small part of that is very rewarding for me. It’s humbling. You know, it’s kind of the reason you do things to kind of turn a program around like we have, and it’s just very fun to play for Coach (Zac) Taylor and the stuff that he’s instilled in us as players, and the way that he’s led this organization. You know, I think we’ve ignited the city of Cincinnati, and we’ve just got to keep that fire moving forward.”
Calling himself a “small part” of the organization is on brand with who Wilson has been since he arrived — humble, respectful, and understated.
The more true evaluation is that he was one of the foundational pieces in the early days of the Taylor era and an enormous part of what Lou Anarumo’s defense has become.
Taylor preached the importance of building a culture from the day he was announced as the team’s 10th head coach in February 2019. That process started by looking around the locker room and sorting out which players the team needed to move on from, and it transitioned into finding guys with the right makeup. And the coaching staff knew that was Wilson as soon as they met him at the Senior Bowl.
“We kind of fell in love with him down there,” Anarumo said. “Waiting all the way to the third round, that’s a long time, at least when you know you want a guy.”
Taylor said the team’s scouts were raving about Wilson before the team headed to Mobile, Ala., to coach the South squad in the 2020 game.
“He’s one of those draft experiences that I have, where we really crossed our fingers for every single pick that came off the board, hoping and praying that he’d still be available, and fortunately, he was,” Taylor said.
“But he’s a guy that that our whole building had a ton of conviction on through the pre-draft process. Everything you hear about his family and his upbringing and his experience in Wyoming, and the impact he’s had on people at his high school is tremendous. So we’re fortunate to have him, fortunate to get a deal done with him that’s well deserved by Logan.”
Since 2020, Wilson ranks second on the team in interceptions with seven, fourth in tackles (248), sixth in sacks (4.5), and tied for seventh in passes defensed (11).
Among all NFL linebackers, Wilson’s seven interceptions rank first. And it was his first, which came in his third career game, that signaled to him that he belonged in the NFL.
“You can make tackles, but at the end of the day, it’s about the ball,” Wilson said. “And so when I got my first interception, I felt like my game could translate to this level and then just trying to obviously work better every day.”
Wilson also pointed to the 2021 season he tore up his shoulder, missed three games, and returned playing as well as he ever has to fuel the team’s run to Super Bowl LVI with a last-minute interception in the Divisional Round, 10 tackles in the AFC Championship Game, and nine tackles and a pass breakup in the Super Bowl as he spearheaded a run defense that held the Rams to 43 yards on 23 carries.
“Going through that injury, how much pain it was to even get the tearing, the dislocation done, that was horrible,” Wilson said.
“Then going from questioning whether or not you were gonna be able to play again that year to rehabbing for three weeks, coming back, playing, and then I thought I played pretty well for the most part coming back from a shoulder injury like that. I think that’s where I kind of grew the most, just understanding what I can endure in this game.”
Anarumo said Wilson’s value goes far beyond how he plays. As someone who values continuity, chemistry, and communication, Anarumo points to Wilson’s ability to handle the huddle and the headset communications as one of the most important things the linebacker brings to the team.
“Sometimes I give him too much because I’m telling him, ‘Hey, tell this guy this, tell that guy that,’ and he still has to get the call out, and down and distance and all the things that we put on him,” Anarumo said.
“But he manages it well. He doesn’t flinch. None of our guys do. But again, in the stress of the game, when you’re running around, and you’re breathing heavy, and then you got to listen to somebody in your head, literally, he handles it all very well.”
Wilson agreed to the extension, which is worth up to $37.3 million, while he was at the stadium. When he got home that night, he was greeted by his wife with tears in her eyes.
They haven’t done much to celebrate yet, other than going to out to breakfast Saturday morning before reporting to the stadium to officially sign the contract.
“I kind of kept to my usual regimen, did some body work, some pilates, some massage,” Wilsons said. “Maybe eventually we’ll get to a celebratory dinner once we got some time.”
There has been time to reflect on how far he has come. And, more importantly, how far he won’t have to move for another five years.
And how little the money is going to change him.
“My mindset is never going to change,” Wilson said. “My mindset is what got me here at this point in my career, and I’m just not going to change that because it’s not who I am. This is what’s helped me be successful, so I’m going to continue to do it.”