Fans of the Seattle Seahawks have been yearning all spring and summer for the team to bring back linebacker K.J. Wright. At first many assumed it was just a slow free agent market, but then spring turned to summer and now summer is about to turn to fall and Wright remains unsigned.
It was all the way back in May that Field Gulls noted that the Seahawks were likely happy with the young linebackers on the roster, notably Jordyn Brooks, Darrell Taylor, Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven that Wright’s services would not be necessary. Add in that Alton Robinson has seen snaps at SAM during the preseason, and even in the wake of BBK’s knee injury against the Denver Broncos, and there isn’t a pressing need at linebacker.
In particular, BBK was not expected to play a material number of defensive snaps, and the biggest need in replacing Burr-Kirven will be filling the void on special teams. He had logged 599 special teams snaps during his first two seasons, and as great as Wright is at diagnosing plays and blowing up screens, at his age he’s not exactly the type of young player with upside potential the Hawks have looked to when it comes to special teams.
That said, fans don’t necessarily need to just trust Field Gulls on this subject. A quick look around at the beat writers covering the Hawks shows a consensus on the potential for Wright to fill BBK’s shoes.
The Seahawks are not going to sign free-agent linebacker K.J. Wright because of Burr-Kirven’s injury. Burr-Kirven is a backup linebacker. Wright will not sign with Seattle to be a backup linebacker. Seattle chose to move on from Wright because the team likes Brooks, its first-round pick in 2020, and they believe Darrell Taylor provides the necessary pass-rush skills they desire in a strongside linebacker. Burr-Kirven’s injury doesn’t change any of that.
But one reason the Seahawks haven’t made a real effort to re-sign Wright is that it wanted to turn over the full-time weakside linebacking role to Brooks, while also reconfiguring its strongside linebacking position, the other spot Wright played last year.
It seems unlikely the Seahawks would consider Wright a fit at this stage for Burr-Kirven’s role.
In addition, one other topic that many fans appear to have simply brushed past are the salary demands for Wright. The Las Vegas Raiders have been linked to Wright several times since they hosted him on an official visit earlier in August. The connection is obviously rooted in the visit and the fact that Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley coached Wright in Seattle early in Wright’s career. However, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal recently, part of the reason Las Vegas has yet to add Wright is the dollars involved.
Wright is a logical target given his relationship with Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, for whom he played two years in Seattle. The Raiders are clearly interested, now more than ever given the injuries.
But while the 10-year veteran makes sense, a person with knowledge of the situation indicated money is a factor in terms of Wright’s asking price and the Raiders’ spending comfort.
In short, it appears as though Wright is not willing to play on a veteran minimum contract, which makes sense for a player who has made more than $45M in his career according to OverTheCap.com.
And now the plot regarding teams that might be interested in putting Wright on the field in 2021 is thickening. The New York Jets, where Pete Carroll acolyte Robert Saleh is the head coach, recently lost Jarrad Davis due to injury and could be looking for a replacement. Saleh’s former team, the San Francisco 49ers, signed former Seahawks SAM Mychal Kendricks last week, but then placed Kendricks on injured reserved Tuesday and could be in the market for a SAM familiar with the system in which Wright has spent his career.
The 49ers just signed Mychal Kendricks and he was practicing at the SAM role— Brad Spielberger (@PFF_Brad) August 24, 2021
Now headed to IR, wonder if San Francisco emerges as a K.J. Wright destination https://t.co/t10vcTe4Vc
So, now there are no fewer than three teams across the league in the 49ers, Jets and Raiders, who run a defense similar to that run by the Seahawks and who may be in need of a starting caliber linebacker. If the money offered is the same, it would make sense for a player to want a starting role rather than a depth role that might not involve a lot of playing time.
In any case, what it comes down to is the fact that Wright remains a free agent and if that fact changes anytime soon, the odds are heavily against the Seahawks being the team that takes the action that results in that change.