Should Seahawks restructure the contracts of K.J. Wright or Justin Britt?

Mar 14, 2020, 4:40 PM

Seahawks LB K.J. Wright...

The Seahawks may need to alter K.J. Wright's contract for 2020. (Getty)


As we wait for the NFL’s free agency window to open, the Seahawks currently have just over $44 million in available cap space, but there’s always ways to clear up more room.

Heaps: Why Seahawks should pass on both Clowney and Ngakoue

One way is to cut veterans or restructure their contracts. On Friday, many veteran players across the league were cut, such as former Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, as well as bigger name players like Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker.

Two players currently on Seattle’s roster that the team would love to have back for 2020 are linebacker K.J. Wright and center Justin Britt. They’re both under contract for 2020, but they’re due to make a lot of money.

Wright, per Spotrac, has a cap hit of $10 million and Britt’s hit is $11.4 million.

Both have played above average at their positions in recent years, but Wright, 30, missed nearly all of 2018 before rebounding in 2019 and having a solid season and Britt, 28, tore his ACL in Week 6.

Will the Seahawks look at cutting or restructing deals for one or both of them?

“That’s going to depend on what they want to do,” said Bob Stelton of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore. “If they’re saying ‘we’re going to spend big money either on (free agent defensive end Jadeveon) Clowney or (Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick) Ngakoue‘ or anyone else they’ve talked about, if they’re going to allocate a certain amount of money to shore up that defense, they’ve got plans (to do work on Wright and Britt’s deals).”

Clowney and Ngakoue come up as Seattle’s pass rush was one of the worst in the league in 2019 and the belief has been that the team will be working hard to improve that group for 2020. The problem is edge rushers typically command higher salaries than nearly every other position.

“As much as it seems like they might have a lot of money to play with right now in order to fill the holes that they seem to have, I think these might be necessary moves with one of not both of these guys,” Stelton said.

Co-host Dave Wyman said that these conversations are an unfortunate reality in the NFL.

“I think it’s necessary for every team. You have to go through and pay the guys what they’re worth. And that’s a bad deal for the players … and that’s what happens to older players,” he said. “You just have to take it unless you want to be released and try and play somewhere else.”

Wyman, a former NFL linebacker, was impressed by Wright’s 2019 campaign, where the veteran had career highs in tackles with 132 and interceptions with three. Britt, meanwhile, has found his footing as an above-average center after starting his career as a right tackle and guard.

“But between K.J. Wright and Justin Britt … that’s kind of the two we’re looking at, who’s the guy you can’t afford to (upset) if you’re asking him to take a pay cut?” Wyman said. “Is it K.J. or is it Justin Britt?”

Jim Moore said he thinks Britt would be more upset with having to take a pay cut compared to Wright, who has been in the league longer, but he also questioned if reworking their deals is even necessary.

“Everybody loves (Britt’s backup) Joey Hunt, but you love Justin Britt more as a center ,” he said. “And those salaries aren’t that high, are they?”

“Not individually looking at them, no, but (they are) if you’re looking at the big picture and they’re saying ‘we’ve got to allocate this much for a defensive end, Clowney or otherwise, and we’ve got to allocate this much for an offensive lineman to fill this spot and perhaps a wide receiver,'” Stelton responded. “Whatever they’ve got in mind, I’m guessing they’re saying ‘and we can free up X amount of millions by these two.'”

If it came down to keeping one of those two, Stelton is choosing Britt, partly because he doesn’t know if Hunt could handle the starting job for a whole season.

“You’re deeper at linebacker than you are at center,” Stelton said. “(Especially) if Britt comes back fully healthy and just because of your depth at linebacker. You’ve got (Cody) Barton, (Ben) Burr-Kirven, you’ve got options there, you don’t seem to have options at center.”

Wyman also chose Britt, and noted another key reason why the Seahawks may be inclined to keep him over Wright.

“I just think Justin Britt is way too valuable,” he said. “And Britt and his connection to (star quarterback) Russell Wilson, I mean those two together, I think that’s one thing you have to really consider is how important is that to Russ.”

You can listen to the full discussion at this link or in the player below at the 39-minute mark.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob Stelton and Jim Moore on Twitter. Dave Wyman does not have Twitter.

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Should Seahawks restructure the contracts of K.J. Wright or Justin Britt?