So, What’s The Seahawks’ Plan With K.J. Wright?

It’s funny, if this was a Green Bay Packers blog, I’d probably be on Day Eight of going on and on about the new reality for the Green & Gold, my mind utterly blown at how the franchise could be so callous about their Hall Of Fame, Still-Not-Quite-Outside-Of-His-Prime quarterback (who MIGHT be the most elite player in a franchise history chock full of elite players). But, this is a Seattle sports blog, so I’m obsessed about *checks notes* linebackers?

Someone get my agent on the phone! This is unbelievable …

Apparently Sports Radio 950 KJR just destroyed it with their interview of John Schneider yesterday, so I had to go online and listen to the whole thing. MAN there were a lot of good nuggets in there!

He talked about how Damien Lewis looks like a starting right guard in this league (presumably right away), which is what we figured (especially with Fluker being cut, and subsequently snapped up by Baltimore, which will be a perfect situation for him). He talked about how they “gave it a run” with signing Clowney, but they “gotta keep going”. That’s interesting, a lot of past-tense talk there, even though he wouldn’t rule anything out. That makes sense! Clowney might not be in a hurry, but you can’t wait for him to make up his mind (unless you want to match his asking price, which – given the market for him – would be crazy).

Schneider went into detail on the running back room. Penny – as expected – probably won’t be ready for the start of the regular season, given the serious nature of his injury and the fact that it happened so late in the year last year. He looks to be on track to return under a normal timetable, but that timetable would almost certainly take us into the middle of the regular season (assuming we HAVE a regular season and all that). DeeJay Dallas comes in – per Schneider – as maybe the best blocking running back in the draft. I love it when the Seahawks get guys who are the “best” at something. Will Dissly was the best blocking tight end coming out of his draft, and he turned out to be phenomenal at catching the ball too! When guys are elite at one specific thing, you can teach the other stuff and hopefully incorporate them into your team that much quicker. Running back blocking is probably the least-sexy aspect about them in the grand scheme of things, but how many guys have we heard about not getting any playing time because they’re a liability in that regard? Let’s face facts, Dallas won’t be this team’s #1 running back as a rookie, which means he’ll only see the field when he’s spelling Carson (who, Schneider said in the interview, is expected to be ready for Week 1, coming off of his own injury). That’s usually a 3rd down (i.e. passing) situation, which means if Dallas is going to play, he’s going to have to be trusted to keep Russell Wilson upright. Coming in as the best blocking running back in the draft gives him a GREAT opportunity to play as a rookie (on top of all his Special Teams attributes, which Schneider deems to be … pretty special! He returns punts and kickoffs, and I’m sure he does everything else well in tackling and all that).

It was interesting to hear that the Miami Hurricanes are known for an elite Special Teams-centric group of coaches. Dallas wasn’t the first Hurricane we selected (Travis Homer), and it sounds like he might not be the last, if we’re in need of help in that area.

The biggest news of the interview, obviously, was word that K.J. Wright had shoulder surgery, and that he might not be ready to start Week 1. It’s weird, because Schneider said it wasn’t a “serious” surgery, but if that’s true, why wouldn’t he be ready?

In conjunction with that, Schneider couldn’t have been more glowing about Jordyn Brooks, which is exciting to me. He said Brooks (along with a couple of the other linebackers drafted in that area of the first round) was a “culture changer”. I guess you’d have to be pretty high on a guy to take a linebacker in the first round (considering how they’ve been devalued along with running backs in recent years), so this is starting to feel more like a slam dunk than maybe I expected initially.

There’s now talk about Brooks taking over for K.J. Wright immediately in his weak-side linebacker spot next to Bobby Wagner. I think that’s FANTASTIC! I was dreading this being another wasted draft pick; yet another slow-developing guy who won’t make an impact until MAYBE the final year of his rookie deal. To maximize your draft picks, you need to squeeze as much value out of them while they’re still cheap; that’s how you win a Super Bowl with Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner in their second seasons, because you can afford to stock the team with high-quality veterans like Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and such! Well, now we have those high-quality veterans on mega-contracts in Wilson & Wagner, so the team NEEDS to fill in around them the opposite way: with draft picks making minimal dollars who are able to start/play immediately.

That leaves a lot of questions about K.J. Wright’s status, which I find grows more fascinating by the day. When did he have this surgery? Obviously, they knew about it before the draft, which makes the Brooks pick all the more reasonable (SAM linebacker is the least-important spot on this defense, while WILL is pretty high up there, as he’s on the field generally for most-every snap). But, did he have the surgery before he was due that $1 million roster bonus back in March? Did the team know that he needed it when they opted to keep him around? If THAT’S the case, then it seems all but guaranteed that Wright will be here this year.

If that’s the case, and they’re talking about Brooks taking over for him, then Wright is here for two reasons: to help the team in its transition from one future Ring of Honor player (in Wright) to hopefully another (in Brooks). It has to suck to train your replacement – regardless of what job you have – but Wright must be a pretty cool, secure dude to take this on (of course, the extra million bucks probably doesn’t hurt his ego very much; it shows the team respects him and what he’s given of himself, if nothing else). The other reason to keep Wright around feels a little more suspect to me: Schneider mentioned moving Wright to strong-side linebacker (which, as I JUST said, is the least-important spot on this defense). It’s also – not for nothing – the spot that Bruce Irvin was apparently brought in here to play (when he doesn’t have his hand on the ground as a speed-rusher on the defensive line). How is THAT going to look?

Irvin playing defensive end is likely going to be what happens on most third downs/passing situations. In those situations, you generally don’t have a SAM linebacker on the field, because you want a more speedy nickel corner out there to account for the extra receivers running routes (unless you’re the infuriating 2019 Seahawks defense, who didn’t have a reliable-enough nickel corner, to all of our collective chagrin). So, either we’re swapping Irvin and Wright seemingly on a whim from play to play, or Irvin is going to be playing more defensive end than we expected, or Wright is going to mostly be relegated to backup status, or Wright’s surgery was more serious than Schneider is letting on (and he’ll start the season on the PUP list wth Penny) …

OR, the team is going to cut Wright at some point, regardless of the fact that they gave him that $1 million roster bonus back in March.

So, what’s the plan? No fucking idea. YOU DIDN’T COME HERE FOR ANSWERS, DID YOU?! This shit’s rhetorical, yo! Do I work for the Seahawks? No, I do not (there, there’s an answer for you). I can’t tell you what’s going through their minds.

Couple of final nuggets from Schneider:

He got a little fired up about L.J. Collier when he was talking about how we really haven’t seen much of him yet (seeming to indicate: just WAIT until he gets his opportunity to shine). Boy do I hope he’s right on! I would love nothing more than to be wrong about that guy!

The other thing Schneider mentioned was keeping some cash free to sign players who get cut by other teams. We might be in a position to snap up a quality defensive lineman late in the offseason/pre-season. That’s great news, because there’s ALWAYS a player or two who still have a lot left in the tank, but get cut for money reasons, or because they want to give a younger guy a break.

That being said, I’d still love to see an Everson Griffin signing at some point. You know, if Clowney really is a past-tense player for this team.