The Seahawks kept K.J. Wright two years ago, and he played out his third contract as the team’s longest-tenured player. It looks like the veteran linebacker will make a concerted effort to maximize his value this year.
Ahead of his age-32 season, Wright may only have one more chance at a notable NFL payday. If the Seahawks want to keep Bobby Wagner‘s longtime linebacker sidekick around, they will need to outbid other suitors.
“I do way too much on the football field to take a discount,” Wright said during an appearance on The Jim Rome Show (via ESPN.com). “It makes absolutely no sense. If you want to win all these championships and look good on Sundays, you’ve got to compensate your guys that are making plays.”
Last month, Wright said he would be eager to return to Seattle on a fourth contract. But it is clear he will not make a financial sacrifice to do so. Wright graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 8 overall off-ball linebacker last season; he was the only player to post double-digit totals in tackles for loss (11) and passes defensed (10). He has started 140 of the 144 career games he has played since the Seahawks drafted him in the 2011 fourth round.
“That would just be a beautiful story, if I could just ride it all out with the Seahawks,” Wright said. “That’s some legendary-type stuff. I believe it would be a great investment for Seattle to keep me because as you’ve seen, since I’ve been here, we’ve been nothing but awesome — always making it to the playoffs, winning our division, so they know how much I want to be here.
“But at the end of the day, I get it. They’ve got to clear some space to make things happen, so they’ve got to get busy.”
Seattle has Wagner’s $18MM-per-year contract on its books through 2022. And the team took Jordyn Brooks in last year’s first round, potentially signaling a Wright exit. Wright signed a two-year deal worth $14MM in 2019. The Seahawks have barely $4MM in cap space — a figure that ranks 18th as of Wednesday — and have Shaquill Griffin and Chris Carson joining Wright as free agents-to-be. Russell Wilson lobbying for offensive line upgrades may factor into this equation as well.
Wright would join Lavonte David and Matt Milano as the top linebacker free agents. The Buccaneers will do what they can to keep David, though they have plenty of high-priority UFAs, while the Bills are prepared to let Milano hit the market.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.