RENTON – KJ Wright, one of the Seahawks’ best players during the team’s greatest run of success, said last week he’d love to end his career in Seattle.
“I want to go back home,” Wright said on the “Half-Forgotten History” podcast last week with Trey Wingo. “I think it ‘s that simple. Seattle knows I want to come back. They know how much they mean to me. “
Could it happen?
Well, while coach Pete Carroll didn’t seem to completely dismiss the idea when asked this Sunday, a source confirmed his comments about Wright returning to the team in a non-playing role and not as a player.
“I love KJ,” said Carroll of the player who was a pillar of Seattle’s defense from 2011 to 2020 as a linebacker. “I’ve already talked to him about stuff for the future and all that. I did hear that he was talking about, and we already talked about that. “
While the vagueness of Carroll’s comments could lead to an explanation, a source confirmed that the team is not talking about Wright returning as a player but instead in a non-playing role.
Wright, who spent the last year with the Raiders, turns 33 in July and the team’s moves of the past few months make the Seahawks clear in the midst of a youth movement deciding to trade Russell Wilson. The only players older than Wright on the roster are defensive tackle Al Woods and fullback Nick Bellore
And the Seahawks are now committed to their young inside linebacking duo of Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton, who played all but one snap together in the final two games of last season – each wins – after middle linebacker Bobby Wagner was injured on the first play. of the second-to-last game of the year.
The expected move to a defense that emphasizes more of a 3-4 defensive scheme this year than the past 4-3 may also mean the Seahawks are adjusting to the linebackers they have.
After the Wagner’s release some were surprised by the Seahawks’ draft inside linebacker. After the draft Carroll and general manager John Schneider said they like what they have on the roster at inside linebacker.
“I feel like we’re in good shape in the way we’re lining up depth-wise,” Carroll said. “… As always, we ‘re keeping it but I like the guys that we have and I think we’re in good shape there. We didn’t need to go there (in the draft). “
The Seahawks also added to their inside-linebacking depth this offseason by signing free agent Iggy Iyiegbuniwe, who spent the past four years with the Bears when Sean Desai – now the Seahawks’ associate head coach for defense – was with Chicago.
While Iyiegbuniwe played sparingly on defense for the Bears, he had 1,214 special-teams snaps the past four years and backup linebackers are typically required to be core special teamers, meaning they take part on virtually every special-teams unit. That ‘s not something Wright would ask for at this stage.
The Seahawks’ other inside linebackers include former UW standout Ben Burr-Kirven, who is back to running after suffering an ACL injury last August, and Tanner Muse, a third-round pick of the Raiders who played in six games after being signed in 2020 in September. While Muse didn’t play on defense last year he played 100 snaps on special teams.
Jon Rhattigan, who played 14 games last year as a backup inside linebacker with 250 special-teams snaps, is also on the roster but is recovering from a knee injury in a December game against the Rams. Bellore is also listed as a linebacker, having played that spot earlier in his career, and as a special-teams captain a year ago has a big role on those teams and projects again in 2022.
And according to Carroll, one of the standouts this weekend’s rookie minicamp was Vi Jones, one of the team’s 14 undrafted rookie free-agent signees.
Interestingly, Jones wore Wright’s former no. 50 during rookie minicamp – no player wore that number in 2021 – and spent some time playing Wright’s old weakside linebacker spot, though he could also play outside.
Jones is the son of former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Robert Jones, who won three Super Bowl rings in the 1990s, and a former four-star recruit at USC who later relocated to North Carolina State. At NC State he blocked three kicks in 2020 to earn honors as the team’s co-special teams player of the year.
The 6-2, 225-pound Jones even showed slight resemblance to Wright on the field, especially with his length – he has a wingspan of 79-1 / 8-inches just off Wright’s famous 80-inch measurement.
“He looks the part,” Carroll said. “He’s quick and really athletic. He’s got a good general background of what he played, and you can see, he’s got a lot of athleticism. He’s really fast, really fits the bill. One of the guys that wasn’t draft picks that I totally picked up on, was excited to see him, and you can picture. He could be a special teamer. He could play a little bit outside, play a little inside backer for you, if you need him, and he’ll be able to match up with guys. So he had a good camp. A really good camp. “
Which means that for now, any return by Wright will be in a mentoring role for the young linebackers, and not joining them on the field.
Going through phases
The Seahawks have two more weeks of being in phase two of the offseason program when, according to the NFL, on-field workouts may include individual or group instruction and drills, as well as “perfect play drills,” and lining offensive players with drills. Up across from defensive players lining up across from defensive players, conducted at a walk-through pace. No live contact or team offense versus team defense drills are favored.
They will begin the phase three of the program, more commonly known as Organized Team Activities, or OTAs, on May 23. OTAs are when teams can conduct 10 workouts that include 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on. -11 drills but no live contact.
- Cornerback Tariq Woolen, a fifth-round pick, did not do full-speed drills during the minicamp due to a hamstring issue but took part in the walk-through open to media Sunday.
- Linebacker Tyreke Smith, also a fifth-round pick, didn’t do full-speed work Saturday because of an undisclosed issue but was also on the field for a walk-through Sunday.
- One tryout player Carroll mentioned as catching his eye was safety Tyrese Dedmon of Idaho. The Seahawks can sign players to the roster after camp. But with any sign of the roster full that means a corresponding move to the cut.