K.J. Wright was a staple in the Seattle Seahawks defense for 10 seasons. The team is moving on, which opens up a new opportunity for the former Pro Bowl linebacker. The Las Vegas Raiders are signing Wright to a one-year contract. The moves fills a need for Jon Gruden’s squad and allows Wright to get a fresh start with a familiar face.
Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley coached in Seattle for three seasons
Gus Bradley has been a coach in the NFL since 2006 after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave him an opportunity. He accepted a role as defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks in 2009. He ran the defense for four seasons.
The coaching quartet of Bradley, Dan Quinn, head coach Pete Carroll, and defensive backs coach Kris Richard turned the Seahawks defense into one of the most vaunted units in the league. Under their leadership, Seattle formed the famous “Legion of Boom.”
The secondary was the strength of the defense, led by Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Earl Thomas, and Kim Chancellor. The defense became known as a no-fly zone and was dominant as long as everyone was healthy.
The front seven was also stout. Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and Frank Clark applied the pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Linebackers K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner flew around the field wreaking havoc.
Although the 2012 season was Bradley’s last in Seattle, he helped develop multiple players into Pro Bowlers and set the team up for success. The Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2013.
After stints as the head coach of the Jaguars and the defensive coordinator with the Chargers, Bradley joined the Raiders. Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock are hoping he can turn things around. Bringing in a familiar face like Wright could play a role.
K.J. Wright was an underrated Seahawks defender
The Seahawks defense had its fair share of talented players when the Legion of Boom was in full effect. Everyone knew Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas. Bobby Wagner is a seven-time Pro Bowler and a six-time NFL All-Pro selection. K.J. Wright didn’t necessarily get the credit he deserved at times.
Seattle drafted Wright in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Mississippi State. He turned out to be one of the steals of the draft.
He started 12 games as a rookie, recording 65 total tackles. Wright racked up 943 tackles and 13.5 sacks from his inside linebacker position in 10 seasons with the Seahawks. He also recorded 54 pass defenses, 11 forces fumbles, and six interceptions.
Wright never jumped off the page as an athlete, but he’s been productive and consistent. At 32 years old, he’s not the same player he once was. The short contract makes sense for a linebacker of his age, but he comes with valuable leadership and experience.
K.J. Wright can be a mentor to the young Raiders defenders
If the Raiders are signing K.J. Wright to be an All-Pro linebacker, they’ll likely be disappointed. However, bringing him in for his experience is a wise move for this franchise.
Mike Mayock has hopes for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021. “We feel like we need to be a playoff team this year, and I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” he said, per ESPN. That’s a tall task given the contenders in the AFC, but the teams still has plenty of work to do if they’re going to sniff the playoffs.
The front office has done an excellent job in the offseason of trying to revamp the defense. Before the K.J. Wright signing, Las Vegas inked for Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman. They added defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to pair with Maxx Crosby as an athletic pass-rushing duo.
The Raiders drafted TCU safety Tre’von Moehrig in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He provides playmaking ability to a secondary that desperately needs it. Former Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward comes in as well and offers a veteran presence to the defensive backfield.
As far as Wright goes, it’s unclear what his role on the field will be. However, his mentorship could go along way in helping this young defense reach its potential. Players like Johnathan Abram, Tanner Muse, and Trayvon Mullen are looking to make names for themselves.
K.J. Wright has been there and done that. His impact on the Raiders can stretch beyond what he provides on the field.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference