K.J. Wright

West Notes: Seahawks, Cardinals, Raiders

Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright is entering the final year of his contract and is quietly hoping for an extension.

I want to be here, of course,’’ Wright said (via Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times). “The Seahawks know that. Whatever they want to do, they’ll do. It’s my job to be the best that I could be, to make sure that K.J. and this defense is good. They know what it is and let’s get something done.”

Wright is set to earn $7.2MM this offseason before reaching unrestricted free agency. With his 30th birthday coming on July 23, he recognizes that this could be his last chance at a big payday.

Wright has certainly earned a new contract with his on-field performance in recent years. Last year, he racked up 108 total tackles and an interception as he started in all 15 of his games. Last year, he ranked as Pro Football Focus’ No. 18 ranked linebacker and has routinely been a top-20 LB per the advanced metrics since becoming a full-time starter in 2012.

Here’s more from the West divisions:

  • Odds are the Cardinals will sign wide receiver Greg Little after minicamp, Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic tweets. Little likely would have signed with the club after his first tryout, but a hamstring injury got in the way. Little, a second-round of the Browns in 2011, spent three seasons in Cleveland before being waived. Since then, he has had stints with the Raiders, Bills, and Bengals. Little, 29, has played in 54 games with 42 starts over the course of his career. His most productive season came as a rookie when he had 61 catches for 709 yards and two scores. He followed that up with 53 catches for 647 yards and four scores as an NFL sophomore.
  • The Raiders‘ kicking competition close between Giorgio Tavecchio and Eddy Piñeiro is extremely close, as Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. Tavecchio stands as the only incumbent specialist left on the Raiders’ 2018 offseason roster after the team parted ways with punter Marquette King, long snapper Jon Condo, and longtime kicker Sebastian Janikowski, but it’s possible that they’ll clean house in that department under new head coach Jon Gruden. “I believe we’ll go in through some of the preseason games for sure and give them both an opportunity to kick in game-like situations,” special teams coach Rich Bisaccia said. “We’ll try to create as many situations in practice as we possibly can and certainly when we get to pads. It’s a process and everything matters. … Right now, they’re nip and tuck.”

NFC Notes: Seahawks, Thurmond, Giants

Some assorted notes from around the NFC…

  • The 2016 base salaries for several Seahawks players will be guaranteed today, tweets Joel Corry of CBSSports.com. The list includes Richard Sherman ($12.569MM), Russell Wilson ($12.342MM), Cliff Avril ($6MM) and K.J. Wright ($5.25MM). $6MM of Earl Thomas‘ $8MM 2016 salary is also guaranteed today (via Corry).
  • The Eagles and free agent safety Walter Thurmond haven’t started discussions on an extension, tweets Geoff Mosher. The two sides are expected to start talking at the NFL Combine.
  • Jordan Raanan of NJ.com puts the Giants chance of retaining cornerback Prince Amukamara at “40 percent.” With the 26-year-old expected to fetch a contract of at least $10MM annually, Raanan isn’t convinced that the team is willing to spend at the position.
  • Raanan also believes the Giants should pursue Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon. The 25-year-old is younger than Mario Williams (who is expected to be released) and he’s more dependable than Jason Pierre-Paul.

2015 Salaries Become Guaranteed For Sherman, Thomas, Others

Five members of the NFC champion Seahawks will have their 2015 base salaries become fully guaranteed today, as former agent Joel Corry explains on CBSSports.com. This list includes cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Earl Thomas, linebacker K.J. Wright and defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.

Sherman’s guaranteed salary in 2015 is $10MM, the highest of the group. Combined with his $2.2MM signing bonus, the cornerback’s cap hit will be worth an estimated $12.2MM next season. This total is more than three times the value of Sherman’s cap hit last season. Meanwhile, one of Sherman’s fellow defensive backs will also be earning a chunk of change today. Thomas’ $5.5MM salary becomes guaranteed, meaning the All-Pro safety will count for $7.4MM against the ‘Hawks cap (counting the player’s $1.9MM prorated signing bonus).

Wright’s salary and cap hit will take a significant jump in 2015. The linebacker’s $3.75MM is now full guaranteed, and coupled with the player’s $1MM signing bonus, Wright counts for $4.75 against the cap. Michael Bennett’s cap hit will be worth twice as much as its 2014 value, as the defensive end’s $6MM salary is now guaranteed. Combined with the player’s $2MM signing bonus, Bennett will count for $8MM against the cap. Finally, fellow defensive end Avril had his $7.5MM salary guaranteed. Add that total to the veteran’s $500K signing bonus, and the player’s cap hit is worth $8MM (a drop from last season’s value).

Two other members of the organization had their contracts partially guaranteed today. Safety Kam Chancellor had $4.45MM of his $4.55MM salary guaranteed, meaning his cap hit is worth $5.5MM. $2.3MM of wideout Doug Baldwin‘s $2.8MM salary becomes guaranteed today, meaning the player now counts for an estimated $3.9MM against the cap.

Seahawks Sign K.J. Wright To Extension

SUNDAY: Wright will be guaranteed $16MM, $5MM of which is available in the form of a signing bonus, according to Joel Corry of CBS Sports, who also breaks down the cap figures in the linebacker’ extension. Wright’s cap figure will be $4.75MM in 2015, $6.25MM in ’16, $6.8MM in ’17, and $8.2MM in ’18. His injury guarantees will become fully guaranteed five day after the waiver period in each year (Twitter links: 1, 2, 3).

THURSDAY: The Seahawks have locked up linebacker K.J. Wright for the next several seasons, announcing today that they’ve signed Wright to a four-year contract extension, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (via Twitter). Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter) that the new deal, which will keep Wright from becoming a free agent this offseason, is worth $27MM.

Wright, 25, has been a starter in Seattle ever since being selected 99th overall in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. He has been consistently effective in that role since becoming a Seahawk, recording grades of +7.2 or higher in each of his first three seasons with the club, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Wright has a more modest +3.2 grade in 2014, but that has been partly the result of moving around on the defense more often — as a 4-3 outside linebacker, the Mississippi State product still ranks 12th among 39 qualified players, per PFF.

As a fourth-round pick, Wright had a rookie contract worth just $2.526MM, so his extension provides him with a significant pay raise. According to Condotta (via Twitter), the fact that the Seahawks were able to clear Percy Harvin‘s future salaries from their cap in October’s trade with the Jets likely afforded the team additional flexibility and contributed to accelerating talks with Wright.

With Wright locked up, the Seahawks have secured a number of their key defensive players, as the 2015 offseason approaches. Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, and Michael Bennett also signed long-term deals with the team within the last year.

NFC Notes: Glennon, Vick, Rolle, Austin

A pair of playoff hopefuls will square off in two NFC divisional matchup this weekend, but it’s hard to view Cardinals/Seahawks and Saints/Falcons as equally important games. While the winner of the West showdown will have the inside track on the No. 1 seed for the postseason, the winner of the South contest will inch slightly closer to .500, and move closer to becoming the league’s worst division winner.

While we look forward to those two games and others, let’s check out the latest links from around the conference….

  • In the offseason, head coach Lovie Smith repeatedly referred to Mike Glennon as the Buccaneers‘ “quarterback of the future,” but he wasn’t willing to continue bestowing that title on Glennon this week, writes Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune. “His future right now is, he’s on our football team,” Smith said of Glennon. “We’re not talking on the future right now. The future is about that last press conference — after the season.”
  • With his one-year Jets deal set to expire soon, Michael Vick has considered his 2015 destination, and is intrigued by the idea of joining his hometown team in Washington, as he tells Newsday’s Kimberley A. Martin. “I’m open to playing for anybody that wants to win. But obviously, going back home, I mean, that’ll be a dream come true,’‘ Vick said with a smile. “But I would hate to get my hopes up for something that wouldn’t happen. So I can’t even think about it right now.”
  • Nick Powell of NJ.com attempts to determine what a new contract for Antrel Rolle would look like as the Giants safety nears free agency.
  • Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, who is on the Fritz Pollard list of top minority head coaching candidates, indicated today that he’ll interview with any teams interested in him as a head coach this offseason, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).
  • Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright, whose new four-year extension with the team was announced earlier today, said sticking with Seattle was his preference all along, and the Seahawks’ offer exceeded the dollar number had had in his head (Twitter link via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times).

West Notes: Miller, Seahawks, Broncos, Rams

Broncos star Von Miller became the latest player to weigh in on J.J. Watt‘s megadeal and he thinks the Texans got away light. “He’s underpaid in my opinion. What he does for the Texans, no one else does that for their organization,” Miller said, according to Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today Sports. “None of the big-time quarterbacks that are getting the big-time deals do. J.J. Watt deserves a similar deal. He does everything on the field, everything off the field. It was well deserved. I think he should have gotten more.” Of course, given Miller’s off-the-field troubles, it’s hard to say what Watt’s deal means for the Denver standout. More out of the AFC and NFC West..

  • On the eve of their season opener, the Seahawks haven’t given up hope of working out contract extensions with Cliff Avril and/or K.J. Wright, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). La Canfora writes that they’re “exploring options” with both, so agreements aren’t necessarily imminent.
  • The Broncos tried out long snappers Danny Aiken and Luke Ingram before picking up Kevin McDermott, according to Howard Balzer of USA Today (on Twitter).
  • Mike Triplett of ESPN.com (on Twitter) wonders if the Rams would have claimed Ryan Griffin if he were available instead of Case Keenum. St. Louis signed Keenum on Monday. Griffin, meanwhile, is back with the Saints on a practice squad deal.
  • Allen Bradford, Drew Nowak and David Arkin visited with the Seahawks, tweets Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun.

NFC West Links: Extensions, Seahawks, Givens

In a piece examining how the Seahawks can keep their championship window open, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com writes that even though Seattle has already extended the deals of Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Doug Baldwin, the team could look to hand out even more new contracts in the coming months. Fourth-year linebacker K.J. Wright, whom Pro Football Focus (subscription required) graded as the 13th-best 4-3 OLB in the NFL last season, might be next in line for an extension, per La Canfora. The Seahawks might also look to tack on years to defensive end Cliff Avril‘s original two-year, $13MM deal, which expires after this season. Left tackle Russell Okung is also entering the final year of his contract, but might have to wait for new money, as La Canfora believes his injury history will prompt Seattle to evaluate his health after 2014. More from the NFC West:

  • The Seahawks have a history of keeping just two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster, but Terrelle Pryor‘s performance through two preseason games has Gregg Bell of the News-Tribune wondering if the team will keep the 25-year-old Ohio State product around.
  • Per Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com, Rams receiver Chris Givens has been surpassed on the depth chart by Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, and Brian Quick. It’s fair to wonder if Givens, entering his third season, will survive final cuts.
  • It’s common practice for teams to send scouts to preseason games around the league, hoping to get looks at players who could be available in the coming weeks as cutdown dates approach. Eight NFL teams, plus two CFL squads, had officials on hand to scout the Broncos-49ers exhibition game, but Seahawks general manager John Schneider was the only top executive on hand to view the contest, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com.

NFC Notes: Falcons, Shembo, Bostic, Sherrod

“Our sub defense is our base defense because we play it 65 percent of the snaps,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith tells Daniel Cox of atlantafalcons.com. And while defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s unit is multiple and versatile, he wants players to be dependable at one job first and foremost, particularly in the secondary: “I would like that back end to be set with guys that are really good at one position. I’d rather have a specific guy right now than a jack-of-all trades. When you get to the front, the jack-of-all trades really becomes a little bit more valuable because when you’re attacking protections…or going from 3-4 to 4-3, those looks, that’s where you want it to be a little bit more versatile.”

Here’s some more morning NFC links:

  • ESPN’s Vaughn McClure relays brief quotes from Nolan on his defensive rookies, including fourth-rounder Prince Shembo, who will be used at inside linebacker despite playing outside at Notre Dame.
  • Bears outside linebacker Jon Bostic struggled during his rookie season, but the team thinks the second-year pro will be better as the defense moves away from a base cover-2 scheme, writes Adam Jahns in the Chicago Sun-Times. “I feel a lot more comfortable this year, especially with all the changes to the defense,” said Bostic. “A lot of the changes that we did make, it’s a lot more natural for me. I can play how I’ve been taught literally from little league to high school to college to now. It’s back to playing how I used to.”
  • Packers 2011 first-rounder Derek Sherrod, who went through the off-season program healthy for the first time, faces a make-or-break season after the team declined his fifth-year option, notes ESPN’s Rob Demovsky in his Saturday mailbag.
  • The Seahawks starting linebackers — Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith — will combine to make approximately$2.86MM in base salary next season, notes Todd Dybas of the News Tribune.
  • “If you think [Redskins receiver] Santana Moss is a goner come September, think again,” says Rich Tandler of CSN Washington.
  • The Rams are converting defensive lineman Mason Brodine, who spent two seasons on the practice squad, to tight end, per Joe Lyons of the Post-Dispatch.

Draft Notes: Wright, Robinson, Reilly

When the Seahawks selected linebacker K.J. Wright with the No. 99 overall pick in 2011, no trumpets sounded or ticker-tape parades held — that’s about where he was slated to go, writes Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times. But, since draft day three years ago, Wright has proven himself to be an anchor of an underrated linebacking corps, earning the No. 18 spot of the top 25 best Seahawks draft picks of all time. Wright has the third-most tackles of any defender from the 2011 draft class (164), behind Tampa Bay’s Mason Foster (199) and Houston’s J.J. Watt (192).

More draft notes below…

  • Auburn offensive lineman Greg Robinson will meet with the Rams, holders of the No. 2 overall pick, writes Joel A. Erickson of AL.com. But, since the Rams have already met with Robinson at the team’s facilities in St. Louis, the meeting will take place at Auburn or at Robinson’s high school in Thibodaux, Louisiana.
  • Utah end/linebacker Trevor Reilly is one of 11 prospects chronicling his journey to the NFL Draft for USA TODAY Sports. In this piece published today via Tom Pelissero, Reilly speaks of his recent team workouts and updates us on the condition of his knee:

“My workouts with the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars two weeks ago were positive. Both coaches were awesome. The linebacker coaches came out and worked me out, and we got in the film room. My body feels good and my knee feels good, and I think during the workouts, I showed I can move around well even though I’m a pretty tall guy.”

“My knee is 100 percent now. It’s never felt better. If there were a football game tomorrow, I’d be fine. I don’t even think I’ll have a brace going into my first practice of rookie minicamp. The reason why I wore it last year is I came back so early from ACL surgery – I had the surgery in December and I was back in August – my head coach and my trainer made me wear it just as a precaution. But to me it was more of an insurance policy. It wasn’t that I needed it. It was to make sure I didn’t reinjure myself. I think my surgeon did a great job with my ACL and with the cleanup of the meniscus, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary.”

  • Lindenwood cornerback Pierre Desir may come from a small school, but he plays with great size and experience, writes Arjuna Ramgopal of WEEI.com.
  • Baylor guard Cyril Richardson could be a depth pick for the Bears offensive line, but holes on defense might preclude the team from taking an offensive lineman that high, per CSNChicago.com.