The 2021 NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror with NFL minicamp approaching and linebacker K.J. Wright remains a free agent. While there are plenty of veterans available on the open market, Wright me be one of the first scooped up before training camp.
After an outstanding season with the Seattle Seahawks, the 31-year-old proved he still has plenty left in the tank. While he hasn’t made the Pro Bowl since 2016, the former fourth-round pick can still be a quality starter for a playoff team.
Let’s dive into the best possible landing spots for Wright and how he could influence those teams.
Seattle Seahawks re-sign K.J. Wright
When Wright became a free agent this spring, the Seahawks expected him to get scooped up quickly. The franchise values everything he did on the field and in the locker room for a decade, but 2020 first-round pick Jordyn Brooks is poised to step in alongside Bobby Wagner.
Wright played very well in Seattle this past season. He started all 16 games, recording 60 solo tackles, 11 tackles for loss, three quarterback hits and deflected 10 passes. Furthermore, he is a leader on the defense and the organization values him highly for his character and work ethic.
After drafting just three players in the 2021 NFL Draft, Seattle could stand to find more depth at linebacker. Wright might not see as many snaps as he did earlier in his career, but ending his career in Seattle and competing for a Super Bowl might be ideal for the veteran.
Los Angeles Chargers bolster underrated defense
Los Angeles made the right move hiring Brandon Staley, who has to be considered a defensive savant. He’ll do great work with a roster that includes Derwin James Jr., Joey Bosa, Asante Samuel Jr. and Nasir Adderley. But linebacker is an area where this team could stand to improve.
- K.J. Wright PFF stats: 78.8 coverage grade, 42 defensive stops, 75.3 overall grade
Staley will be running a versatile defense, using various looks to confuse offenses and to find mismatches. That’s where a player like Wright really fits in. He can be used as a blitzer, is comfortable dropping back in coverage and consistently receives positive marks stopping the run.
The Chargers already look like a playoff-caliber team in 2021. If K.J. Wright joins them, they’ll have a top-10 defense and that will complement an offense that could dominate this season. Put it all together and you’ve got a dark horse Super Bowl contender.
K.J. Wright signs with Green Bay Packers
Green Bay has never really valued linebackers, often ignoring the position in free agency and early in the NFL Draft. But defensive coordinator Joe Berry has spent most of his coaching career with linebackers and likely recognizes it’s a weakness on the Packers’ defense.
The Packers can’t afford to enter Week 1 with Ty Summers playing significant snaps. He was a turnstile when dropping back in coverage last season, couldn’t pressure opposing quarterbacks and just didn’t bring very much when he took the field. Wright is superior to any off-ball linebacker on Green Bay’s roster and would be a welcome addition for the front seven.
It might be especially important to add him if Rodgers doesn’t play. Green Bay’s defense must step up next season and that can only be accomplished by adding some of the veteran talent still available on the open market. Whether Rodgers is back or not, the Packers need to become a little more aggressive with their window closing.