Longtime Seahawk linebacker K.J. Wright met with the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday as he searches for a team for the 2021 season, according to multiple reports.
But for now, Wright remains a free agent as the NFL Network reported that he left his meeting with the Raiders without signing a contract.
The NFL Network reported that Wright “has interest from a few teams and will remain in touch with Vegas” as he continues to assess his options.
The Raiders are an obvious fit for Wright as their new defensive coordinator is Gus Bradley, who was the defensive coordinator with the Seahawks from 2009-12. Wright began his career with Seattle in 2011 when he was drafted out of Mississippi State in the fourth round.
Bradley has continued to run a similar defense in his stops since leaving the Seahawks in 2013 to become the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Bradley was hired by the Raiders in January after they fired Paul Guenther following a season in which the Raiders finished 30th in the NFL in points allowed and 25th in yards allowed.
If Wright were to sign with the Raiders, he could see his first action against the Seahawks in a preseason game on Aug. 14 in Las Vegas.
Wright turned in what by all accounts was one of his best seasons with the Seahawks in 2020, playing strongside and weakside linebacker. He became the starting strongside linebacker in the base defense following an injury in Week Two to Bruce Irvin but also played weakside linebacker in the nickel. His 11 tackles-for-a-loss and 10 pass defenses were each the second most of his career, and Pro Football Focus rated Wright as the 14th best linebacker entering the 2021 season.
But Wright turned 32 in July, and the Seahawks have decided to turn those two positions over to high picks from recent drafts.
Jordyn Brooks, a first-round pick in 2020, is taking over the WLB spot on a full-time basis (last year, he started in the base defense but came off in the nickel with Wright moving to WLB), and 2020 second-rounder Darrell Taylor in line to take over the starting strongside spot. Re-signing Wright, the team felt, would have blocked the ascension of one, or both, players.
Carroll said in the spring that the door remained open for Wright to return, but he also said the team was content with its current roster and wouldn’t likely make significant changes until it saw what it had in camp.
Brooks and Taylor have been cited by coaches in the early days of camp for their play.
Wright has remained in the Seattle area working out and has said he was leaving the door open to return to the Seahawks. He also said he would pursue other opportunities.
Weakside linebacker has been Wright’s primary position with the Seahawks. If he were to sign with the Raiders, he would likely get into a competition with former University of Washington standout Cory Littleton.
After four years with the Rams, Littleton signed a three-year, $35.25 million contract with the Raiders before the 2020 season, and he has a dead cap hit of $19.2 million in 2021.
But the Raiders could see Wright as an option at strongside linebacker, where he played well last year and where the Raiders don’t appear as set. Wright played primarily strongside linebacker in 2011 and 2012 with the Seahawks when Bradley was the DC.
Wright famously supplanted former first-round pick Aaron Curry as the Seahawks’ starting strongside linebacker early in the 2011 season when he was a rookie, resulting in Curry’s eventual trade to the Raiders. Wright moved to weakside linebacker as his primary position in 2013 after the departure of Leroy Hill.
Wright has the third-most tackles in team history with 934, behind only his longtime friend and teammate Bobby Wagner (1,211) and safety Eugene Robinson (984).