Clayton: Seahawks LB K.J. Wright in good spot for new deal, but it will probably come from another team

Feb 8, 2019, 2:52 PM

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Seahawks LB K.J. Wright will become an unrestricted free agent in March. (AP)


I got a chance to catch up with Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright Thursday while filling in on Movin’ The Chains on SiriusXM NFL radio.

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He was in excellent spirits. As he should be. He’s in the “Wright” place at the right time — the unfortunate part is he’s in such a good place that he is probably going to end up a former Seahawk.

His position in free agency is strong enough that some team, or teams, are going to make him offers that the Seahawks will refuse to match. Arguably, he’s one of the best outside linebackers in free agency, with Anthony Barr of the Minnesota Vikings being another Pro Bowl linebacker who is high on the free agent list.

Many think he’s going to make $11 million a year or more. Wright, if considered healthy, probably has a higher rating because of his leadership, play-making ability and skills in pass coverage. If he gets offers of more than $10 million a year, he’s probably going to leave.

It’s not that the Seahawks don’t want him. They do. They know how valuable he is. They watched how well he played in the Dallas playoff game, and they know what he means to the defense.

On Sirius, Wright talked about why he would hate the leave the Seahawks. He loves playing with Bobby Wagner. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was his mentor both on and off the field. He married his wife in Seattle. His family is now Seattle-based.

But this is his first chance to be a free agent. The reason it would be hard for the Seahawks to pay him more than $10 million a year, in part, is because this w ill be his third contract. Over the past couple of years, the Seahawks had some bad luck with third contracts. They didn’t get everything out of Marshawn Lynch after his last Seahawks deal, and Michael Bennett was traded during his third contract. Kam Chancellor got a third contract, but suffered a career-ending injury in the first year of that deal. (On Friday, his injury guarantee kicked in and the team is on the hook for $5.2 million of his base salary.)

As teams have found out, you can give a third contract to an offensive lineman (they tend to hold out), and you can definitely give one to a quarterback. Many of the top quarterbacks play into their late 30s and early 40s. I would also think the Seahawks would give one to middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.

The problem is giving two $10 million-plus third contracts to their linebackers. Wright told me on Sirius that his knee is fine now but it has been a struggle to the past couple of years. Still, fans saw in the Cowboys game that he still has his speed and agility.

If Wright does leave for big money, that would leave Seattle in a position to possibly get two third-round compensatory picks in the 2020 draft. Naturally, you’d rather have the player, but the salary cap prevents teams from keeping everyone.

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