Heaps: K.J. Wright showed in 2020 that Seahawks should bring him back

Jan 16, 2021, 4:15 PM
Seahawks LB K.J. Wright...
Jake Heaps thinks LB K.J. Wright has earned a new deal from the Seahawks. (Getty)

The Seahawks’ longest-tenured player had arguably his best season in year 10, as linebacker K.J. Wright shined time and time again as one of Seattle’s most consistent players in 2020.

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Wright, 31, ended 2020 with 86 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, two sacks, one forced fumble, 10 pass deflections and an interception.

Per the Seahawks PR Twitter account, Wright was the only player in the NFL in 2020 with 10 or more tackles for loss and pass deflections, which he took note of on his Twitter account, as well.

What made Wright’s play all the more impressive was that for most of the season, Wright played a different position than usual.

Wright had been the Seahawks’ weakside (WILL) linebacker since 2013 after playing all three linebacker spots early in his career. After starting strongside (SAM) linebacker Bruce Irvin tore his ACL in Week 2, rookie first-round linebacker Jordyn Brooks became the new WILL linebacker while Wright shifted to SAM, which he hadn’t played since his second season in 2012. Playing closer to the line of scrimmage, Wright regularly made plays in both the pass and run game.

The Seahawks’ defense started 2020 on a historically bad pace, but over the last half of the season, that group turned things around and was one of the best defenses in the NFL. Wright played a big part in that, but his future is uncertain as he is set to be a free agent this offseason.

Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy looked at whether or not Wright should return to the Seahawks for 2021 during a recent Four-Down Territory segment.

First, Heaps noted that it seemed like the Seahawks had been preparing for life after Wright going into 2020.

“If you looked at what they did over their last two drafts, it looked like they were getting ready to move on from K.J. Wright,” he said. “Just look at it – they drafted Ben Burr-Kirven (in 2019), they drafted Cody Barton (in 2019), they brought in Mychal Kendricks at one point, they drafted Jordyn Brooks. All signs pointed to K.J. Wright is probably going to be out the door (and the Seahawks) are getting younger, inexpensive options.”

But based on how Wright played in 2020, Heaps said “that changes everything” as to whether or not the Seahawks move on without him.

“I believe the Seahawks are going to be very, very invested in bringing K.J. Wright back,” Heaps said. “How big of a pay day does K.J. Wright get? I don’t know. I’m hoping it’s not a high, high amount where he’s in the $10 million range. But he played a great season and we’ll see how the rest of the NFL reacts to that, because obviously the market is going to drive the price.”

Wright was last a free agent after a 2018 season in which he played in only five games due to injury. After testing the waters in free agency, he returned on a two-year deal worth up to $15.5 million, with most of that money coming in 2020 in case the team wanted to move on after 2019.

That obviously didn’t happen, and for good reason. Wright set a career high in tackles in 2019 and then played great at SAM in 2020. Heaps thinks that makes Wright deserving of another deal with the Seahawks.

“What I’m hoping is K.J. Wright returns as a Seahawk,” Heaps said. “… He still has plenty of run in this league and can still be an impact player. So even with all those things happening in the draft, I still believe K.J. Wright will be a Seahawk in 2021.”

Listen to Heaps’ full comments in the second hour of Monday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

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