Seahawks 2021 Free Agent Primer: K.J. Wright

Undergoing an impressive evolution after transitioning to the strongside linebacker position midway through his 10th season, Wright looks to have a lot of quality football left in him. But with Jordyn Brooks waiting in the wings, can Seattle realistically afford to keep him?
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Following an early Wild Card round exit, the Seahawks have officially transitioned into an offseason that could be one of the most significant of the Pete Carroll and John Schneider era.

When the new 2021 league year kicks off in March, Seattle will have a whopping 24 players set to become unrestricted free agents. Four players will be restricted free agents, while six will be exclusive rights free agents and several others will be entering the final year of their current contracts ready to negotiate extensions, including safety Jamal Adams.

Over the next several weeks, I will break down each and every one of the Seahawks' unrestricted free agents by revisiting their 2020 seasons, assessing why they should or should not be re-signed, breaking down an ideal contract, and making an early prediction on whether or not the player will return in 2021.

To kick off the series, let's take a look at perennially underrated linebacker K.J. Wright.

Season In Review

Continuing to play at a very high level in his 10th season while adapting to a new position, Wright racked up 86 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 10 passes defensed, and a pair of sacks while starting all 16 games for the Seahawks. Somehow getting slighted again for the Pro Bowl, he wrapped up the season as the only player in the league to post double-digit passes defensed and tackles for loss. In addition, he forced a fumble and made a spectacular one-handed interception in a Week 5 win over the Vikings.

Why Seattle Should Re-Sign Him

Despite his advancing age and diminished athleticism in coverage, sliding to the strongside linebacker position early in the season showcased Wright's biggest strengths and the transition could prolong his career. He thrived as a run defender off the edge and the position switch also allowed Seattle to send him more off the edge as a blitzer, which led to his first sacks since the 2016 season. He also remains arguably the best in the league at terminating screens, which is especially important against several of the Seahawks rivals in the NFC West. He's proven he still packs plenty of punch on the field and his leadership presence in the locker room cannot be overstated.

Why Seattle Should Let Him Walk

Set to turn 32 years old in July, Wright is bound to start slowing down at some point and though he's been healthy the past two years, he's undergone knee and shoulder operations in the past three years. Questions about durability long-term still remain reasonable ones. The Seahawks also may not have a full-time opportunity available for him anymore with rising star Jordyn Brooks poised to take on a starting role in his second season with the team. Given reports he will want to be paid based on his past production, the organization may have a tough time paying such a price tag when he will likely see diminished playing time restricted to base 4-3 defense situations.

Ideal Contract

1-2 years at $7.5 million per year

Prediction

Seattle surprised many two years ago by choosing to re-sign Wright when all signs pointed to him leaving in free agency. Fast forwarding to 2021, it's not out of the question the franchise could bring him back again due to his value on and off the field. But with the salary cap set to plummet due to the pandemic, the team won't have much money to play with and an aging player who already has his replacement on the roster may not be a top priority under such circumstances. Unless he changes his mind and is willing to play on a hometown discount to finish his career in the Pacific Northwest, it seems unlikely Wright will be back for an 11th season.

Seahawks Free Agent Primers

Chris Carson

Shaquill Griffin

Mike Iupati

Benson Mayowa