SEATTLE — As much as linebacker K.J. Wright wants to return for an 11th season with the Seattle Seahawks and finish his career with the team that drafted him, he doesn’t want to do so on anything other than a market-value contract.
Wright made that latter point known in an interview with Jim Rome that aired Monday on CBS Sports Radio.
“I do way too much on the football field to take a discount,” said Wright, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next month. “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. … I have a family and I’m trying to set up long, long-term success for my family.”
Wright noted that he was the only player in the NFL last season to hit double digits in both tackles for loss (11) and passes defensed (10). He also had a pair of sacks and an interception as he continued to play some of his best football at age 31. Wright set several career highs in 2019 after an injury-shortened 2018 season.
NFL reporter Josina Anderson reported last month that Wright was seeking a deal commensurate with his recent production. He made $6.75 million per season on his 2014 extension and $7.75 million APY on the two-year deal he signed after hitting free agency in 2019. Wright maxed out that deal by hitting a playing-time escalator and playing in every game over those two seasons.
Giving Wright a substantial raise won’t be easy for the Seahawks. Over The Cap and Roster Management System have them at around $4.4 million to $7.8 million below the salary cap (based on an estimated cap of $180.5 million) before cuts and any restructures or trades.
The Seahawks drafted Wright’s eventual successor last April when they took linebacker Jordyn Brooks 27th overall. Wright was coming off offseason shoulder surgery, but he recovered in time to begin the season at his usual starting spot at weakside linebacker. He moved to the strong side and thrived there after Bruce Irvin suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 2.
The Seahawks will likely want to see more of Brooks in 2021 after using him in a part-time role during his strong rookie season. Brooks took over on the weak side when Wright moved over.
Wright, the Seahawks’ longest-tenured player as a fourth-round pick in 2011, is third on the franchise’s all-time tackles list. Teammate Bobby Wagner is first.
“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. And like I said before I left, 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. [Because of the salary cap], they’ve got to clear some space to make things happen, so they’ve got to get busy.”