K.J. Wright

NFC West Notes: 49ers, Wright, Conner

Of the three high-end quarterback prospects expected to be available to the 49ers at No. 3 overall, Justin Fields has lagged behind the other two — Trey Lance and Mac Jones — in terms of being linked to San Francisco. But Kyle Shanahan has reached out to Fields’ pre-draft coach, former NFL QB John Beck, at points this offseason. Beck has overseen Fields’ pre-draft preparations and has taken over that role for Lance in recent weeks. Beck was with Washington when Shanahan served as the team’s OC.

Knowing that I’ve been around (Fields) the last three months, he’ll reach out and just want to ask questions or talk,” Beck said, via The Athletic’s Matt Barrows (subscription required) of Shanahan. “And kind of like prod into: What are the things we’re working on, the things that I think having played in his system, having been coached by him, I know how he’s going to coach quarterbacks. I know what he’s looking for.”

Beck, who added that he has also spoken with 49ers assistant GM Adam Peters this offseason, incorporated 49ers concepts into Fields’ first pro day. Peters, 49ers QBs coach Rich Scangarello and college scouting director Ethan Waugh attended Fields’ first pro day. Beck will not attend Fields’ second showcase, but the 49ers will run the workout. Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • With Trevor Lawrence almost certainly Jacksonville-bound and Zach Wilson on track to join the Jets, the 49ers’ QB preference has emerged as perhaps the draft’s top talking point. Few in the team’s building know which passer Shanahan prefers. He and John Lynch have only told “a couple” of people the quarterback they are targeting, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Podcast (video link). It will come down to Fields, Lance and Jones. Thus far, Jones may have a slight lead. While Shanahan and Lynch showed rare transparency following their trade up to No. 3, their secrecy within the building will continue to generate interest as to which QB Shanahan wants. Lynch and Shanahan opting to attend Jones’ pro day over Fields’ may have served as an early tell, but the 49ers are attending Fields and Lance’s second showcases.
  • K.J. Wright expressed interest in returning to the Seahawks but is not keen on taking a discount to re-sign. However, the veteran linebacker may have no choice. Wright may need to accept a deal that slashes his previous pay in half, John Clayton of 710 AM Seattle writes, adding that he is not getting “good vibes” another Wright-Seahawks accord may come to pass. Wright averaged $7MM in salary on his third Seahawks contract, which he signed in 2019. He was interested in joining ex-Seattle DC Dan Quinn in Dallas; nothing has emerged to indicate the Cowboys are pursuing Wright. The Seahawks moving on would make sense. They used a 2020 first-round pick on Jordyn Brooks and have Bobby Wagner signed to the top off-ball linebacker contract. Wright, 31, has played all 10 of his NFL seasons with Seattle.
  • New Cardinals running back James Conner underwent toe surgery recently. He suffered the injury in an ATV accident, he said Tuesday. The former Pro Bowl back is expected to be 100% by training camp.

LB K.J. Wright Interested In Playing For Cowboys

It’s been relatively quiet on the K.J. Wright front, but that could be because the free agent linebacker is eyeing one particular team. The veteran told Mike Fisher of Sports Illustrated that he wants to play for the Cowboys.

“Dallas has certainly always been on my list of ‘dream teams,”’ Wright said. “With coach Dan Quinn there, and with other aspects of that team and that defense, I do think it’s one of the teams I fit in with.”

The connection makes sense. As Wright pointed out, new Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn held the same role in Seattle in 2013 and 2014, with Wright starting 29 games for the Seahawks during that span. Further, Dallas could use some reinforcement at linebacker. Sean Lee has missed 16 games over the past three years, and Leighton Vander Esch was limited to only 10 games in 2020.

Even though Wright will be 32 years old by the start of the 2021 campaign, he’d still provide Dallas with a reliable and consistent option at the position. 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.

Back in February, the veteran linebacker revealed that he wouldn’t be taking a discount to stick around Seattle, but it’s uncertain if that sentiment would apply to the Cowboys.

I do way too much on the football field to take a discount,” Wright said. “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.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

K.J. Wright Not Open To Discount To Stay With Seahawks

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.

NFC West Notes: Seahawks, Golden, 49ers

For the second time in three years, K.J. Wright is a free agent. The longest-tenured Seahawks player has already signed three contracts with the franchise that drafted him. He is eager to ink a fourth.

I’m having fun; I love this city. I love this team, so let’s make it happen,” Wright said of a return to Seattle, via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson. “… (A return is) up to Pete (Carroll) and John (Schneider). They know how much I mean to this team. They know I’m a great teammate, a great leader and it would be a great investment — in my opinion — if they invest in K.J. and to bring him back into the building. You get what you pay for, and I bring a lot to the table still.”

Wright, 31, does not sound interested in a hometown discount, per veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson (on Twitter). The Seahawks have paired Wright and Bobby Wagner for nine seasons and used both as sub-package linebackers for most of the 2020 slate. But Seattle drafting Jordyn Brooks in last year’s first round could complicate a Wright return. Pro Football Focus rated Wright as its No. 8 overall ‘backer this past season.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • The Seahawks were not planning to part ways with OC Brian Schottenheimer, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes an end-of-season meeting — in which Carroll reinforced his preference to focus on the run game — helped lead to the team changing play-callers. The Seahawks deviated in the season’s first half from Carroll’s run-centric vision but reverted more toward their usual setup down the stretch. It will be interesting to see how Seattle’s offense looks under new OC Shane Waldron, who spent five years in Washington and Los Angeles working under Sean McVay.
  • Markus Golden‘s sack total dropped from 10 in 2019 to 4.5 in 2020, and the Cardinals saw Haason Reddick complete a contract-year breakout. Still, the older Arizona edge rusher would like to return. “It gave me another shock of energy just being back home,” Golden said of the trade that sent him from the Giants to the Cards, via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. “Being here where I know my heart is, it really matters to me to be in Arizona on the Cardinals.” Golden, who signed with the Giants in 2019 and stayed in New York via the rare UFA tender last year, is set for free agency for a third straight year.
  • Big expenses at the top of the Rams‘ payroll have forced the team to let several role players walk in recent offseasons. This year may be no exception. The Rams are unlikely to re-sign Josh Reynolds, Malcolm Brown or Gerald Everett, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Rams having drafted contributors at these positions in 2020, and having two wideouts (Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods) and a tight end (Tyler Higbee) signed long-term already, pointed this trio to free agency.
  • Jeff Wilson‘s one-year 49ers extension can max out at $3.6MM, according to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. Wilson will receive $2.05MM fully guaranteed, with another possible $1.55MM available via incentives. The incentives would give Wilson a chance to out-earn the low-end RFA tender price, which OverTheCap projects at $2.24MM for running backs. He is still due to be a 2022 UFA.
  • Nick Mullens underwent elbow surgery last month, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. This, however, was not a Tommy John operation, with Garafolo adding the 49ers backup’s injury was not as severe as initially feared. He is expected to be ready by training camp.

West Rumors: 49ers, Seahawks, Broncos

It’s been a long offseason for the 49ers, who have seen numerous key players deal with injuries throughout the spring and summer. Add more to the list of San Francisco talents set to miss the preseason. Jerick McKinnon and Weston Richburg are both unlikely to play until Week 1. Given $18MM guaranteed, McKinnon is still dealing with knee trouble after missing all of last season with an ACL tear. The sixth-year running back received a platelet-rich plasma injection on his knee and is expected to miss the 49ers’ August slate, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com notes. The team activated him from the PUP list Tuesday, but Kyle Shanahan said his prized 2018 offseason signing experienced significant soreness after going through individual drills the past two days. Richburg, who remains on the active/PUP list after a January knee surgery, is being targeted a Week 1 return. So are Nick Bosa and Jason Verrett. The 49ers hope Dee Ford, who received a PRP injection on his injured knee, can play by the team’s dress-rehearsal preseason game.

Here’s the latest West news from outside of San Francisco:

  • With the Seahawks in desperate need of available pass rushers come Week 1, more blitz opportunities may be on tap. Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks (should he be on the field) are in position to be used more as rushers. “If we can play really good D, it’s going to be because of Bobby and K.J. and Mychal and the guys in the linebacker spot. We’re going to utilize them as much as we can to be a factor in all aspects, run and pass [defense],” Pete Carroll said, via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson. “Those guys are really good pass defenders, and they love coming off the edge too. We’ll plan on using those guys a lot.” After Frank Clark‘s departure, the Seahawks have Ziggy Ansah and L.J. Collier injured. Jarran Reed incurred a six-game suspension. Wright has not collected a sack since 2016, when he had four. Wagner had 4.5 that year but recorded 2.5 since.
  • Theo Riddick will earn a $2MM 2019 base salary with the Broncos, and $750K of it is fully guaranteed, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. Another $250K will be available in per-game roster bonuses. Overall, Riddick signed for $2.5MM with $1MM guaranteed. This makes it a near-certainty Riddick will appear on the Broncos’ 53-man roster in September.
  • The Broncos are already down Todd Davis for multiple weeks; they will be without one of his top backups for longer than that. Joe Jones suffered a triceps injury this week, and a second opinion delivered more clarity on the inside linebacker’s timeline. Jones will be out between six and eight weeks, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. But he will not need surgery, which could increase his chances of making the Broncos. If Jones hits IR before the Broncos finalize their 53-man unit, the special-teamer will be ineligible to return for them this season.
  • Returning 2018 fifth-round pick Johnny Townsend would seemingly be in line to keep his job as the Raiders‘ punter, but Jon Gruden said rookie UDFA A.J. Cole has put himself in the conversation to unseat the incumbent, per Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (on Twitter). Cole would be an option to handle Raiders kickoffs as well.

Extra Points: Browns, OBJ, Falcons, Hawks

If there was any doubt after he missed all but one day of OTAs, Odell Beckham confirmed on Friday he will report to minicamp on June 3, Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot writes.

Beckham confirmed the news replying to a comment on Instagram when one user told him to “cut out the crap and get to camp.” The star receiver responded, “I’ll be there on the 3rd, u coming?”

In his introductory press conference, Beckham said he wanted to set the tone by showing up the first day when asked how much he’d participate in OTAs. In all, the newly acquired pass catcher made one session and, when asked how much he missed, head coach Freddie Kitchens replied, ” A lot — the offense.”

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Another star player confirmed he will be showing up to mandatory minicamp, ESPN’s Vaughn McClure writes. That was Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley, who did not attend OTAs. Entering the final year of his deal, Beasley is set to earn $12.8MM after the Falcons picked up his fifth-year option this offseason.
  • K.J. Wright believes Bobby Wagner will remain with the Seahawks past 2019, Pro Football Talk’s Curtis Crabtree writes. “It’s going to be really exciting to see everything pan out. He’s going to be a Seahawk for life.” Acting as his own agent, Wagner said he plans to surpass the $85MM with $43MM guaranteed deal that C.J. Mosley just inked with the Jets.

Contract Details: Vaccaro, Callahan, Okafor

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed NFL contracts, with all links going to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle’s Twitter account:

Contract Details: Funchess, LaCosse, Golden

Some assorted contract notes from around the NFL:

  • Devin Funchess, WR (Colts): One year, $10MM. $7MM guaranteed via roster bonus. $3MM base salary. $3MM in incentives for receptions, receiving yards, TDs, Pro Bowl, All-Pro. Twitter link via Joel A. Erickson of the Indy Star.
  • Tyrann Mathieu, S (Chiefs): Three years, $42MM. $26.8MM guaranteed, $14.8MM signing bonus. Base salaries: $850K (2019), $1.15MM (2020), $14.5MM (2021, nonguaranteed). Details via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.
  • K.J. Wright, LB (Seahawks): Two years, up to $15MM (original story). $8MM in 2019, including $5MM signing bonus, $1.5MM base salary, $1.5MM roster bonus. Second year isn’t guaranteed. Twitter link via ESPN’s Brady Henderson.
  • Matt LaCosse, TE (Patriots): Two years, $2MM, $500K guaranteed for 2019 (original story). Base salaries: $700K (2019), $1MM (2020). $300K signing bonus, $25K per-game bonus. $500K in playing time/receptions incentives. Twitter link via Nick Underhill of The New Orleans Advocate.
  • Markus Golden, LB (Giants): One year. Worth up to $4.75MM, $2.225MM guaranteed. Twitter link via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan.
  • Cameron Fleming, OT (Cowboys): Two years, $8.5MM. 2019: $1MM base salary, $1.5MM signing bonus, $2.25MM cap number. $300K for 60-percent playing time, $600K for 70-percent. Twitter link via ESPN’s Todd Archer.
  • Bruce Ellington, WR (Patriots): One year, $25K guaranteed. Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.

Contract Details: Taylor, Wright, Harris, Lutz

Some assorted contract details from the around the NFL:

Seahawks Re-Sign K.J. Wright

The Seahawks reached agreement on a new deal with linebacker K.J. Wright, according to Gregg Bell of The News Tribune. Details on the deal are not yet known, but it’ll be a short-term contract, Bell hears.

Wright has been with the Seahawks ever since entering the league as a fourth-round pick in the 2011 draft. Along with Doug Baldwin, another ’11 draftee, Wright is the longest-tenured member of the Seattle roster. With players like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Michael Bennett are departing recently, Wright is one of the few remaining members of Seattle’s Super Bowl winning defense.

Wright struggled with injuries all of last season, and ended up appearing in only five games. He was still productive when out there though, receiving strong marks from Pro Football Focus for his time on the field. In those five games he had 23 tackles, two for loss, and three passes defended.

Wright missed the first six games of last season with a knee injury, then came back and played three. He re-aggravated his knee injury and had to miss five more games before returning for the final couple of games. Due to that troublesome knee, it’s not surprising the deal is short-term.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.