K.J. Wright has been around for the entirety of Russell Wilson's career so far, and despite rumblings of discontent between the quarterback and the Seahawks, the linebacker is convinced it's nothing but offseason bluster.
Wright made his thoughts on the matter painstakingly clear during a Friday appearance on Good Morning Football.
"I was kind of caught off-guard myself but looking back at it, Russ isn't going anywhere," Wright declared. "As long as I'm in Seattle, Russ is going to be the quarterback. He means too much to us. He means way too much to this organization, he means way too much to this city.
"Usually people want to come to Seattle, not leave Seattle. I'm sure him and the organization will get things figured out. He's somebody that I admire and love playing with, so I expect Russ to be with the Seahawks for a very long time."
There's no overstating Wilson's production and importance to the Seahawks, whose ascendance to contention has coincided with Wilson's rise to prominence. The former third-round pick has exceeded all expectations set for him since he was selected out of Wisconsin in the 2012 NFL Draft, and though he's yet to receive a single AP NFL Most Valuable Player vote, he's been a premier quarterback for the majority of his time in Seattle. The Seahawks simply go as Wilson goes, and though there have been reports of a rift between he and the Seattle coaching staff, everyone involved knows all too well they're not much without each other.
Wright, though, made an interesting point in his response on the issue, referencing his tenure in Seattle as a reason for Wilson remaining with the Seahawks. At 31 and approaching free agency just months before his 32nd birthday, Wright could be preparing to see the end of his time in Seattle. He doesn't want to leave the Seahawks, of course, but he'll need a new contract to stick around -- and Seattle isn't exactly flush with cap space to get a deal done.
As they currently stand, the Seahawks have around $4 million in available space with a projected cap slightly above the $180 million floor given by the league. They could clear a healthy chunk of their cap by cutting in-season addition Carlos Dunlap, who accounts for $14 million of their cap, and redirect some of those savings toward retaining Wright on a cheaper deal. His current contract, which expires in March, paid him an average annual salary of $7 million, making a new deal realistic, especially with his age considered.
Wright also posted his lowest tackle total of his career when starting all 16 games, logging just 86 in 2020. He remains an effective pass coverage linebacker, finishing with 10 passes defensed and one interception. He posted his best overall defensive grade since the 2015 season, finishing with a mark of 75.7, per Pro Football Focus. Keeping him around makes sense, but at the right price.
"If I was giving the Seattle Seahawks a hometown discount performance, then I would totally get it," Wright said. "But by the way that I'm looking, playing the way that I'm playing, I really need a hometown hookup. Just been balling, leadership has still been on point, and I've been looking really good. Just to clarify, the Seahawks never mention a hometown discount. But I definitely understand the business, I know that everybody can't come back, but there would be no love lost. My performance is what it is, so I have to be compensated properly."
Wright has stuck around as one of the last remaining members of Seattle's vaunted defense that saw it reach consecutive Super Bowls in 2013 and 2014, winning in stunning fashion in its first appearance by taking down the high-powered Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XVLIII. Experience matters, especially for a team forced to deal with internal drama on at least a few separate occasions (spats with Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas being notable others).
Wright is aware of this and its influence on possible negotiations.
"I just believe you can't put a price tag on experience. You can't put a price tag on leadership," he said. "I've pretty much seen everything under the football sun, and during the season, things happen, things arise. Who's that guy on your team that's bringing everybody together? When it's a drive on the football field and it's a 12-play drive, who's the guy that's keeping everybody calm? Hey guys, let's take a stand, we're about to stop them right here.
"There's great things that come with rookies and there's great things that come with veterans. I believe that you need that fine balance, that cohesiveness on the football field. Successful organizations, they don't happen by accident. You don't win games by accident on Sundays. Good football teams have good football players on their squad. And so I bring a lot to the table, and I'm excited to keep this thing going."
Wright will learn in the weeks ahead whether he'll be part of Seattle's immediate future. He certainly makes a compelling case for remaining a Seahawk in 2021.