For the first time in our free-agent look at who could be on the market for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in this upcoming league year, I get a player without Arizona Cardinals ties. However, with K.J. Wright, we still stay in the NFC West. As much as things change, they stay the same.
Could Wright fit in Tampa? Let’s look at it.
K.J. Wright’s Career Thus Far
Before winning a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks, Wright was playing linebacker for the Mississippi State Bulldogs earning a spot in the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick in the 2011 selection meeting.
Since then, Wright has more than outplayed his stock racking up 13.5 sacks and nearly 600 tackles despite not being a focal point of the Seattle pass rush.
As a mainstay in the Seahawks defense during the development of the ‘Legion of Boom’ and since its dismantling, Wright is their version of Tampa Bay’s Lavonte David.
When you think about Wright, you’d be surprised to learn he has just one Pro Bowl selection and has never landed on the First-Team All-Pro roster. Of course, playing with Bobby Wagner has helped Wright’s career performances, for sure. Still, as much as he is Robin to Wagner’s Batman, you’d think he’d have more recognition.
Difference here is, David hasn’t had a Wagner caliber running mate until the Buccaneers pulled the trigger on ‘over-drafting’ Devin White two years ago.
Outside of the stat box, Wright is a veteran who may come available if he can strike a deal with the Seahawks who has fourteen career playoff games and a Super Bowl title on his resume.
Why It Works
If you’re a team looking for an off-ball linebacker with range, solid tackling ability, and is a proven leader, then Wright is your guy.
For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the match with Wright only works if one huge problem arises. Of course, we’re talking about the departure of their own veteran, Lavonte David.
For the most part, Wright has been a star playing as Seattle’s weakside linebacker in their 4-3 base. In 2020, he moved over to strongside after injuries forced a shuffling in the Seahawks defense.
Moving inside in Todd Bowles’ 3-4 base is a step down from David in my eyes, but a step up from Kevin Minter and allows Jason Licht to look elsewhere near the top of this year’s draft.
If there’s any doubt about this old dog learning new tricks as a 3-4 inside linebacker, he can’t be understated as a leader. This characteristic has been evident on and off the field, and has made him a fan favorite in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, Wright was just recently announced as this year’s ‘Male Seattle Sports Star of the Year’, an honor selected by fans.
This isn’t necessary, because Lavonte David isn’t going anywhere, right? Where’s he going? Nowhere.
Ok, we may not want to accept a possible future for the Buccaneers where David isn’t a part of the team, but it’s a possibility until it isn’t.
For Wright, the only real concern here is whether or not he brings all the attributes Bowles wants playing next to Devin White, and whether or not he’s affordable in the same light. Wouldn’t make much sense not paying David just to pay Wright like-money, now would it?
What’s The Cost?
Here we go. Wright’s market value according to Spotrac.com is $7.1M per year on a new two-year deal.
Meanwhile, David is expected to earn $12.7M - or $5.5M more per year.
So I guess, LVD isn’t as under-appreciated as we thought.
What We Don’t Know
We know David and the Bucs have been in talks since last year. Now, we don’t know how often the two sides talked, or what the tone of those discussions really was. Bottom line, we don’t know how much David values keeping the party going over getting paid as much as he can.
Wright wants to stay in Seattle as well. Something he’s already made known. However, he’s also made it known he doesn’t want to hear noise about a ‘hometown discount’ after being quoted by multiple outlets saying,
“I do way too much on the football field to take a discount...”
If he isn’t taking a discount to stay in Seattle, he isn’t taking one to move to Florida. So does he value himself at the full $7.1M per year? Or maybe more? Those are the unknowns for now, with the first one being the biggest.
Make The Decision
It’s hard for me to imagine any fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would select the ‘Sign him, no matter what’ option here.
Preferring David’s return over Wright’s arrival seems to be an easy call, but maybe I’m wrong. It’s your call Bucs Nation!
When it comes to K.J. Wright, what would you have the Buccaneers do?
This poll is closed
Sign him, no matter what
Make an offer, but keep it reasonable
Invite him for a cup of coffee and see where it goes
Call him up if they have a need after the NFL Draft
Don’t need him
Stop playing, just re-sign Lavonte David