Heaps: Seahawks’ next moves with draft over? They’re not done on defense

May 5, 2021, 9:30 AM

Seahawks LB K.J. Wright...

Jake Heaps thinks the Seahawks will re-sign LB K.J. Wright for the 2021 season. (Getty)


The 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone, with the Seahawks selecting three players and adding even more in undrafted rookie free agency.

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With one of the biggest events of the NFL year now finished, what moves should come next for the Seahawks?

For former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps, he pointed to the defensive side of the ball Tuesday on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy.

“I think it all comes down to the determination of K.J. Wright,” Heaps said of the veteran free agent linebacker who has played his entire 10-year career so far with the Seahawks. “What do you want to do there?”

Wright is still unsigned after a fantastic 2020 season at strongside (SAM) linebacker, and head coach Pete Carroll said in a pre-draft press conference that he and Wright have talked recently and both sides are open to a reunion.

But there are a few factors that make Wright’s future with the Seahawks not as simple as “bring him back.”

After the draft, Carroll told reporters that the Seahawks have thought about letting 2020 second-round defensive end Darrell Taylor play SAM linebacker as well as rushing the passer, which could potentially impact Wright’s return. Taylor may need to stay at edge rusher, however, because recently-signed defensive end Aldon Smith was arrested for battery in Louisiana just days he joined Seattle, putting his future in question.

“I think there’s a couple things in the air,” Heaps said. “What’s going to go on with Aldon Smith? Where do you determine Darrell Taylor’s future to be? (With that information) you can make that determination on K.J. Wright.”

But if it were up to Heaps, he’d bring Wright back in a heartbeat for a few reasons.

“I don’t want to project Darrell Taylor as a SAM linebacker. I don’t want to try and project what Aldon Smith can be in this defense,” he said. “I want a proven commodity. I want K.J. Wright back here in Seattle.”

Heaps is also confident that Wright will return to the Seahawks for what would be his 11th season in Seattle.

“I think there will be a deal that they can strike together that both sides would be happy with and certainly would be a team-friendly contract. I think K.J. Wright is definitely poised to re-sign here in Seattle,” he said.

Heaps wouldn’t stop at bringing Wright back. He’d keep working on adding to the defense.

“The next move I would make would be continuing to look at the defensive line,” he said. “I know people are out there thinking about Richard Sherman and addressing the cornerback spot, but I think they have put together the crop of guys that they want to have compete going into training camp.”

And if the Seahawks do decide to keep addressing the defensive line, Heaps has two veteran players in mind that Seattle should look at adding.

“There’s two guys out there that I would be highly intrigued by if the Seahawks were to go after them,” he said. “That is Ryan Kerrigan and Justin Houston. Both of those guys, I believe, could be answers to add to your continued pass rush if you believe (recently-signed defensive end) Kerry Hyder Jr. would be best served as a defensive tackle in your scheme rather than a five-technique defensive end, therefore you can continue to have flexibility and depth all across your defensive line.”

Both Houston and Kerrigan entered the league in 2011 and have been capable pass rushers. Houston has 97.5 career sacks and Kerrigan isn’t too far behind at 95.5.

Listen to the second hour of Tuesday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

Follow Brandon Gustafson on Twitter.

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Heaps: Seahawks’ next moves with draft over? They’re not done on defense