Much to the delight of All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner, the Seattle Seahawks are keeping the band together in the middle of their defense.
According to Greg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune, star linebacker K.J. Wright and the Seahawks have agreed to terms on a new deal to keep him in the Pacific Northwest. NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported his new contract will be two years for up to $15.5 million.
By bringing Wright back alongside Wagner, Seattle could have arguably the best linebacker group in the NFL, depending on whether or not newly-signed Mychal Kendricks will be eligible to play next season.
Wright, who will turn 30 in July, dealt with lingering knee issues throughout the 2018 season and missed 11 regular season games, putting his future with the Seahawks in doubt. He finished with just 23 tackles in five games, ending a four-year streak with 100 or more tackles.
But prior to undergoing knee surgery last August, Wright had been one of Seattle’s most durable players, missing only five games over the previous seven seasons.
As pointed out by Seahawks general manager John Schneider during his press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine, Wright played “phenomenal” when healthy last year and he finished the season on a strong note. He registered eight tackles and a spectacular end zone interception in a 24-22 defeat to the Cowboys in the Wild Card round, proving he’s still a fantastic NFL linebacker.
In eight seasons with the Seahawks, Wright has recorded 744 tackles, 11.5 sacks, and 33 passes defensed, proving to be one of the better coverage linebackers in football. After years of being criminally overlooked on a star-studded defense, he finally made his first Pro Bowl in 2016, posting 124 tackles and a career-high 4.0 sacks for Seattle.
Wright has also been one of the NFL’s premier talents off the field, as he was selected as Seattle’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award last season. He traveled to Kenya last summer, bringing books and teaching English to students in the Maasai Mara region. He also pledged $300 for every tackle he made towards the construction of a fresh-water well for the primary school in the region.
While the Seahawks had to weigh costs and benefits of re-signing an aging linebacker coming off of a rough season, few players have had the lasting impact on the field and in the locker room Wright brings to the table and this looks to be an ideal contract for both sides.
Looking at his past injury-marred season as a fluke, Seattle kept Wright’s past production, consistency, and leadership in mind and paid the veteran more than most people anticipated, which should make Wagner very happy heading into his own contract negotiations.