Huard: Seahawks need to deal with K.J. Wright’s contract
After signing tight end Greg Olsen to a one-year deal, the Seahawks sit in the middle of the pack in terms of available cap space at just over $44 million ahead of the major free agency period.
Seattle has a major need on the defensive line and based on what head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine, that will be addressed through free agency.
But bringing in established, capable pass rushers is expensive, and the Seahawks have one of the best defensive lineman in the league set to hit the open market in defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, and bringing him back could cost anywhere from $18 to $23 million annually.
While $44 million is more than enough to re-sign Clowney and add one or two more pass rushers, the Seahawks also need help at defensive tackle, offensive line and could even be in the market for cornerback help.
To make room for this, 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard thinks there’s a veteran who can’t be on the roster under his current deal, and that’s linebacker K.J. Wright.
“It’s just the cap number,” Huard told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore on why the Seahawks could potentially move on from the nine-year player. “It’s just where he sits in the savings.”
According to OverTheCap.com, Wright’s cap number is $10 million and cutting him would save $7.5 million for 2020.
While the Seahawks could cut Wright, 30, and move 2019 third-round pick Cody Barton into his role, Wright was effective last season and the team would likely want him back for at least 2020.
“I would be just fine restructuring it,” Huard told host Bob Stelton. “This isn’t, ‘K.J.’s a bad guy, he’s done, he’s totally fallen off the cliff and can’t play.’ I mean heck, he had (the second most tackles on the team in 2019) and is a guy who knows ball, has athletic intuition and leadership and everything else is off the charts.”
Wright has five 100-tackle seasons to his credit, including in 2019 when he had a career-high 132. He and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner have been one of the best linebacker tandems in the league since the latter was picked in the 2012 draft.
Huard says there’s a way to bring him back on a better deal while also being able to pay him a decent salary.
“I would want him back, but I’d want him back on a minimal deal with some incentives on tackles or starts or playing time,” he said.
Last offseason, Wright signed a two-year deal in free agency after playing just five games in 2018 due to injuries, which was surprising to some who thought maybe Seattle would move on from the vet.
Huard thinks the contract, even at the time, was seen as a one-year deal and that he would either be cut or have the contract restructured after 2019.
“As far as cap savings, he would be candidate No. 1 to restructure a deal and gain some serious cap savings,” Huard said.
Stelton’s co-host Jim Moore said the Seahawks need to do something about Wright’s contract in his latest column, and he also pointed to center Justin Britt as another veteran who should have their contract restructured.
After Britt, 29, tore his ACL early in the season, Joey Hunt filled in the rest of the way, earning praise from Carroll and other players for his play, communication and football IQ. Huard said that because of what Hunt did while on the field, that could leave the Seahawks willing to cut Britt.
“Unlike K.J. in that linebacker spot, when either Bobby or K.J. have been out, it’s been really hard for a decade to find anybody that played at their level,” he said, “(whereas) Joey Hunt stepped into (Britt’s role) and while physically overwhelmed at times, in particular against Philadelphia on a couple occasions, he really did his part.”
Britt’s cap number is over $11 million and his 2020 savings would be roughly $8.5 million if he was cut.
Huard said the Seahawks could release Britt and let him test the free agency waters to see if other teams would be willing to pay him, but that Seattle could leave the door open for him to come back for 2020 on a deal similar to what he wants Wright to take.
Listen to Huard’s full conversation with Bob, Dave and Moore, which included his thoughts on the Seattle Dragons and more free agency discussion, at this link or in the player below.
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